JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 2,700-year-old seal impression bearing the name of a Judean king was uncovered in excavations at the foot of the Temple Mount.
The discovery announced Wednesday is the first seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king ever exposed during a scientific archaeological excavation.
The oval impression, measuring 0.5 by 0.47 inches, reads “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah,” and includes the image of a two-winged sun, with the wings turned downward, flanked by two ankh symbols symbolizing life. Hezekiah was the Judean king from 727 BCE to 698 BCE.
The Ophel excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount are being conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology.
The seal impression was found together with 33 additional bullae imprinted from other seals, some bearing Hebrew names, their reverse showing marks of coarse fabric and thick cords that probably sealed sacks containing foodstuffs.
They were discovered in a refuse dump dated to the time of King Hezekiah or shortly after, and originated in the Royal Building that stood next to it and appears to have been used to store food. The building, one of a series of structures that also included a gatehouse and towers, was constructed in the second half of the 10th century BCE — the time of King Solomon — as part of the fortifications of the Ophel, the new governmental quarter that was built in the area that connects the City of David with the Temple Mount.
The renewed Ophel excavations took place between 2009 and 2013, and the finds are still being processed. The excavation site is situated within the Ophel Archaeological Park, which is part of the National Park Around the Walls of Jerusalem under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.