Staatliche Museen zu Berlin–Preussicher Kulturbesitz Vorderasiatisches Museum

Among the hoard of cuneiform tablets known as the Amarna letters—correspondence from the royal archives of pharaohs Amenophis III and his son Akhenaten, who reigned during the 14th century B.C.E.—is this tablet, sent by Abdi-Heba, ruler of Jerusalem. That a ruler of Jerusalem was writing an official letter to an Egyptian pharaoh suggests that in the 14th century B.C.E. there was indeed a settlement at Jerusalem—referred to here as “Urusalim” (see the detail of the tablet). Unlike most scholars, however, Steiner believes that Urusalim and Jerusalem may not be the same place. And even if the two are identical, she argues, Jerusalem in the 14th century B.C.E. was nothing more than an estate or royal dominion of Egypt, a conclusion also contested by other scholars.