"Solomon's Temple Tablet may be the most significant archaeological finding yet" in Israel
A sandstone tablet with an inscription very similar to 2 Kings 12 may be extremely significant both in biblical archaeology and Israeli religious politics.

The ten lines of Phoenician script describes King Jehoash's orders "to buy quarry stones and timber and copper and labour to carry out the duty with the faith" in repairing the First Temple.

If it's authentic, "it would be a first-of-its kind piece of physical evidence describing events in a manner that adheres to the narrative in the Bible," says the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha'aretz, which broke the story yesterday. It can also increase tension between Jerusalem's Jews and Muslims. "Muslim clerics insist, despite overwhelming archaeological evidence, that no Jewish shrine ever stood at [the Temple Mount]," the Associated Press explains. "That claim was made by Palestinian officials in failed negotiations with Israel in 2000 over who would be sovereign there." There are two mosques currently on the site.

Gold flecks burned into the tablet suggest it might actually have been part of Solomon's Temple, says Amos Bean, director of the Geological Survey of Israel. "These specks of gold are not natural material, but a sign of human activity," he told the AP. "They could be from gold-plated objects in the home of a very rich man, or a temple. … It's hard to believe that anyone would know how to do these things to make it look real."

The Geological Survey of Israel is standing firmly beside the artifact. "Our findings show that it is authentic," says Shimon Ilani, whose geological tests confirm that the writing dates to the 9th century B.C.

But the GSI was the second organization to examine the ...

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