Israel Exploration Society

Also discovered at Masada were ostraca from amphoras, or storage jars, purchased before the First Jewish Revolt. These ostraca note the jars’ contents (one says garum, fish sauce) or are labeled as belonging to Herod’s cellar. Surprisingly, the language used on all these ostraca is Latin. The example shown here would have read in full, “In the consulate of C. Sentius Saturninus, Philonian wine from the estate of L. Laenius, for Herod the Jewish king.” Even the cooks in Herod’s kitchens, apparently, knew enough Latin to distinguish a jar of wine from one of fish sauce or olive oil.