© Erich Lessing

Ancient Israelite invoice? The first line inscribed on this eighth-century B.C. pottery sherd reads, “[G]old (of) Ophir. (Belonging) to Beth-Horon.” The second line reads “30 sh(ekels),” with the numeral 30 written in the Phoenician manner, appearing as three horizontal lines. The ostracon was found at Tel Qasile, in modern Tel Aviv.

“Gold of Ophir” may refer to a specific type of gold, or perhaps to gold from the land of Ophir. Beth-Horon is a place name, but it may also have been a temple dedicated to the Canaanite god Horon. Although it offers archaeological confirmation of the connection between gold and Ophir mentioned in the Bible, this enigmatic sherd gives us no clue to Ophir’s location.