Israel Claims Rare Paleo-Hebrew Papyrus Recovered

But questions remain about its provenance and authenticity

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), an incredibly rare papyrus with Paleo-Hebrew text dating to the time of the First Temple has been recovered by its Antiquities Theft Prevention Unit. The IAA claims the papyrus, which contains just four lines of text, is one of only three papyrus documents to date to this period and, therefore, offers a unique glimpse into the world of Jerusalem during the time of the biblical kings. However, the papyrus is an unprovenanced object that may have originated on the antiquities market, which has caused some scholars to be more cautious when judging its date and authenticity.

IAA Announces a Rare Treasure

According to the IAA, the papyrus fragment, though damaged, includes several Hebrew words that reveal it is part of a letter with instructions to a recipient: “To Ishmael, send…” The letter was likely a request to Ishmael to send commodities to the writer of the text. The IAA’s paleographic examination of the paleo-Hebrew text determined that it dates from the late seventh to sixth centuries B.C.E. Radiocarbon analysis of the papyrus returned a similar date.


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