Israel unveils 2,700-year-old papyrus repatriated from the United States

Israel unveils 2,700-year-old papyrus repatriated from the United States

Israel unveils 2,700-year-old papyrus repatriated from the United States

The manuscript dated to the late seventh or early sixth century BC belonged to an American from Montana. Written in ancient Hebrew, it is typical of the period of the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority unveiled a papyrus on Wednesdayextremely rare, 2,700 years old and written in ancient Hebrew, found by chance in a residence in the Midwest in the United States. The manuscript dated to the late seventh or early sixth century BC is written in paleo-Hebrew characters, typical of the period of the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It consists of four lines starting with the words “Ishmael tishlakh(Send to Ishmael !, in French).

We don’t know exactly what was sent and whereJoe Uziel, director of the Judean Desert Manuscripts Unit at the Antiquities Authority, told AFP. According to the researchers, the manuscript was most likely found in the caves of the Judean desert, whose dry climate facilitates the preservation of papyri. “This papyrus is unique, extremely raresaid Eitan Klein, deputy director of the Department for Theft Prevention, adding that researchers were so far aware of only two other papyri from the First Temple period. Iron Age Jews used scraps of clay to scribble short notes and animal skin to write, with the papyrus reserved for official correspondence, he explained.

The return of this manuscript to the Middle East began when Shmuel Ahituv, a specialist in Bible studies, received a mandate in 2018 to complete a work on Hebrew from the late scholar Ada Yardeni. But Mr. Ahituv was surprised to see a photo of this papyrus in the book that he had never seen before. The researcher then contacted Eitan Klein and, with the help of Ada Yardeni’s daughter, they tracked down the owner of the original: an American from Montana. The Midwestern man’s mother had received it during a visit to Jerusalem in 1965 by Joseph Saad, curator of the Rockefeller Museum, who had in turn obtained it from the legendary antiquarian of Bethlehem, West Bank, Halil Iskander Kandu.

Carbon dating 14

The latter had sold thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls which he probably bought from the Bedouins who had discovered them in a cave in the Judean desert, Mr. Klein said. Convinced that it would be better preserved there, the American owner entrusted the manuscript to the Antiquities Authority in 2019, which established its authenticity and age using paleography and carbon-14 dating.

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