As happens regularly, the field of archeology again caught my eye this morning. As a study of the past, we’re always pushing back the boundaries of what we know of ancient times. This time, we now have an even earlier example of a Hebrew text from the time of King David. Of course, we assume there were many texts and a full written history existing at that time, but this is our earliest direct physical proof of that writing.
Of course, as the pottery shard where the writing is preserved is just recently discovered, no through analysis or translation has been made. I can accept that. However, as usual, that leaves reporters with a desperate need to say something about the discovery when nothing has yet been researched. So they give us a few details. Within the text, the roots of the words judge, king, and slave have been found. The words themselves may or may not be present in the text, but probably something vaguely related to each is present in the text. Profound. Even more stunning is the assertion that the text was clearly written by a trained scribe. Really? As opposed to the random scratchings of the illiterate masses of the time? I mean, I knew there was a problem with graffiti back then, but really?
Of course, even though only 4% of the site has been excavated, most of the information they do have is terribly interesting. It’s very near the supposed site of the fight between David and Goliath, and contains at least 100 jar handles of a type similar to ‘royal’ jars of the time. The site is the oldest known fortified city of that period (meaning the other places we knew existed at that time we haven’t physically pinpointed yet). It’s one of the few places where King David can be archaeologically investigated for that reason. And as a city where people would be more concentrated, it has obvious potential as a means of exploring daily life at the time.
Personally, I favor an alternative translation to the Goliath myth. A bunch of Philistines were threatening this fortified Judean city, see. And so the local inhabitants, being fresh out of river stones, dropped jars on their heads until they left. This, of course, was not a very noble battle, so they substituted the river story someplace outside the city. And made the king a champion. What’s a people without a champion, and what’s a king without great deeds?