A potshard with an inscription of a receipt may contain the earliest extrabiblical reference to Solomon's Temple in ancient Jerusalem.
Top biblical scholars seem convinced of its authenticity, despite its unknown source. After surfacing on the antiquities market, the shard became part of the collection of London businessman Shlomo Moussaieff. The inscription is translated: "Pursuant to the order to you of Ashyahu the king to give by the hand of Zecharyahu silver of Tarshish to the House (or Temple) of Yahweh. Three shekels."
Scholars date the inscription from the ninth century to the seventh century B.C., based on the early-Hebrew script that was common before the Babylonian exile.
Ashyahu is not known as one of the kings of Judah. University of Chicago scholar Dennis Pardee suggests the name could be Josiah, who ruled Judah from 640 to 609 B.C.
Frank Moore Cross of Harvard and P. Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins believe the inscription is older, dating perhaps to the reign of King Joash, 835 to 796 B.C.1
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