The Qeiyafa Inscription at the Israel Museum – Photos now Allowed!

We recently visited the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and saw many of the Bible-related archaeological treasures displayed there. Bible students would probably recognize objects from Bible dictionaries, class materials, PowerPoint lessons, textbooks, and other sources. It’s one thing to see photos but quite another to be inches away from the genuine objects.

Photos have been prohibited throughout the museum during previous visits. That was disconcerting, especially considering that many world-class museums such as the British Museum and the Louvre permit non-flash photography.

A few weeks ago, rumors cropped up that the Israel Museum’s ban on non-flash photos had been lifted. I was happily able to confirm the policy change during my recent visit. I took around 170 photos in the museum, under the watchful eyes of staffers, without incident. Here is a photo I took of the ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafa.

The Qeiyafa ostracon. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

This inscription was discovered in 2008 and dates to the late-11th/early-10th century B.C., around the time of Saul and David in the Bible. It may be the oldest Hebrew inscription yet discovered. Some scholars believe this to be Hebrew written in Early Alphabetic script, though others assert we cannot rule out other similar languages such as Phoenician. Ancient words for “judge,” “king,” and “slave” are visible but too many of the other letters are faded to permit a sure translation of the message. This ostracon is located in a small gallery about Ancient Writing, located in the museum’s archaeology wing.


About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in General Archaeology, Inscriptions and Manuscripts, Interesting places to visit, Israel, Jerusalem, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Museums and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Qeiyafa Inscription at the Israel Museum – Photos now Allowed!

  1. pithom says:

    Any further info on KQ Inscription 2? Or must we wait until this excavation season is over for answers?

  2. lukechandler says:

    The season is over now but it will be a while before much more is said. Some work is needed before things can be understood and announced/published. It’s usually wise to expect less than is hoped for. Once in a while we find more than we hoped for. Not sure yet on where this one will fall, so I’m lowering expectations for the time being.

    As soon as anything is announced, you’ll be able to find it here!

  3. Jordan Wilson says:

    How many letters?

    • lukechandler says:

      It’s not as long as the 2008 inscription. I know that doesn’t say very much considering how long the first one is. 🙂

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