Archaeologists Discover Oldest Letter Ever Found in Jerusalem

Clay fragment emboldened with what is believed to be a letter from the court of Jerusalem to the court of Egypt, 3,300 years ago.

Israeli archaeologists have discovered a clay fragment emboldened with a letter apparently written in Jerusalem more than 3,300 years ago, believed to be the oldest example of writing ever found in the city.

The letter written from the court of a king in Jerusalem to his counterpart in Egypt could prove the Jerusalem mentioned in ancient writings actually existed in the same location as the modern city.

Letter found in Jerusalem
Sasson Tiram

Archaeologists from the Hebrew University and the Antiquities Authority that were digging at a Jerusalem site discovered a piece of the letter half a year ago.

The research team, headed by Dr. Eilat Mazar, discovered the tin tablet, less than one square inch in size, inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. Philology professor Wayne Horovitz and his colleagues deciphered the text of the letter.

They claim that the letter is similar to correspondence from the time of the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV that were found in Egypt, but the type of tin it is made from proves that it is Jerusalemite in origin. It is possible that it written in the court of King Abdi-Hefa, mentioned in Egyptian letters as the King of Jerusalem.