3,000 year old bin-end wine label deciphered

9th January, 2014 by Rupert Millar

An archaeologist thinks he has found evidence of wine provided to the slaves who worked on Temple Mount in Bronze Age Jerusalem.

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Professor Galil’s sketch of the shard of pottery discovered at the site and the inscription he said shows it once contained low quality wine for slaves.

In September last year while excavating a Byzantine site, an earthenware jar was uncovered by a team from the archaeological institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Ophel area of the city, not far from Temple Mount.

It was immediately spotted as being much older and was dated back to the 10th century BC, the days of King Solomon but at first experts thought that the letters were from an ancient near eastern language.

Now professor Gershon Galil from Haifa University has claimed they are ancient Hebrew – or something closely related – and indicate that the jar contained wine for slaves and poorer members of society – possibly those who helped build Solomon’s temple,palaces and city walls.

If correct it is some of the oldest Hebrew ever uncovered.

Galil has said he thinks the word “yayin” “wine” is written as well as hints to the year and place of its production although the necessary letters are missing.

According to Galil, “yayin” has a close resemblance to a word in the Ugarit language of northern Syria which indicates low quality wine.

Before “yayin” is the ending “…mem”, apparently the last part of a word for the 20th or 30th year of the kingdom.

Galil told The Archaeology News Network: “This wine wasn’t served to Solomon’s emissaries, or in the temple, but apparently was for the slave construction workers who worked in the area.”

He further claimed that the ability to notarise the wine with a date and location and set it aside for a designated purpose, “attests to the existence of an organised administration.”

A spate of evidence pointing to winemaking and brewing in the ancient middle east has been uncovered of late, much of it in Israel and the Lebanon. The most recent find though was the house of a brewer in ancient Egypt.

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