TEL AVIV – A 2,600 bulla (seal impression) and a stamp dating back to the First Temple era bearing Hebrew inscriptions have been uncovered as part of archaeological excavations at the City of David’s Givati Parking Lot in Jerusalem.
The clay bulla belonged to a man named Nathan-Melech. The name Nathan-Melech appears only once in the Bible, in II Kings 23:11, where he is described as an official in the court of King Josiah. The second seal is a bluish stone with the words “[belonging to] Ikkar son of Matanyahu.”
The first bulla is special. “This bulla connects to a whole context, a whole world, that we have been uncovering in this spot,” Prof. Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University, who led the dig together with Yiftah Shalev from the Israel Antiquities Authority, told the New York Times.
According to Gadot and Shalev, the building that originally housed the findings was destroyed in the sixth century BCE, most likely during the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. That building, a newly unearthed two-story structure made of finely cut and dressed ashlar stones, served as a public administrative center for the entire city.
“These artifacts attest to the highly developed system of administration in the Kingdom of Judah and add considerable information to our understanding of the economic status of Jerusalem and its administrative system during the First Temple period, as well as personal information about the king’s closest officials and administrators who lived and worked in the city,” said Gadot and Shalev in a press release from the IAA.
They said that the discovery of the public building “provides a lot of information about the city’s structure during this period and the size of its administrative area.”
As well as identifying the user, personal seals showed status and lineage and were used to sign documents, the IAA said. They were often set into signet rings.
Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David Foundation, which operates the City of David National Park, said the find was “extremely exciting” for “billions of people around the world.”
“The ongoing archaeological excavations at the City of David continue to prove that ancient Jerusalem is no longer just a matter of faith, but also a matter of fact. It is truly fascinating to watch how archaeologists have uncovered more than twelve layers of Jerusalem history in what used to be a parking lot until just few years ago,” Spielman said.