Israeli archaeologists say a 3,000-year-old fragment of a ceramic jar found near Jerusalem's Temple Mount, dating back to the days of King David and King Solomon, bears a mysterious inscription that ranks as the earliest alphabetical written text ever found in the city.
The inscription is incised into the clay of a neckless ceramic jar found at Jerusalem's Ophel excavation site. The text is in the Canaanite language, which predates Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script. From left to right, the letters translate to M, Q, P, H, N, possibly L, and N.
The archaeologists behind the find, led by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Eilat Mazar, say that combination of letters doesn't correspond to any known word in west-Semitic languages — and thus, its meaning is unknown. But they suspect that the inscription specifies the contents of the jar or the name of its owner.
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