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The seal mark discovered in Jerusalem (Eilat Mazar/Biblical Archaeological Society)

Feb 23, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall

Archaeologists in Israel may have stumbled upon a major biblical discovery: a clay seal mark bearing the signature of the prophet Isaiah. The 2,700-year-old stamped clay artifact was discovered at the base of the southern wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount during an excavation. A seal stamp like this, also called a bulla, was used in antiquity to authenticate documents.

“We found the eighth-century B.C.E. seal mark that may have been made by the prophet Isaiah himself only 10 feet away from where we earlier discovered the highly-publicized bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah,” said Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in a statement regarding the artifact, which was found among undisturbed Iron Age remains outside an ancient royal bakery.

The half-inch wide, oval-shaped piece of clay is inscribed with the name Yesha’yah[u] (Isaiah) in ancient Hebrew script. The name is followed by the word nvy, the end of which is slightly damaged. As a result, experts do not know whether the word ended with the Hebrew letter aleph, a seemingly minor detail that makes all the difference in determining to whom the seal really belonged.

The presence of an aleph “would have resulted in the Hebrew word for ‘prophet’ and would have definitively identified the seal as the signature of the prophet Isaiah,” explained Dr. Mazar. “The absence of this final letter, however, requires that we leave open the possibility that it could just be the name Navi.”

“The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” she added.

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