Photos by Gaby Laron, the Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University

Either way you look at it, the name inscribed on this black scaraboid seal is mentioned in the Bible. The seal was excavated from the Babylonian stratum (586–538 B.C.E.) beneath the Northern Tower. The Babylonian cultic scene depicts two bearded men with raised arms standing on either side of an altar while the crescent symbol of the moon god Sin hangs overhead.

When Mazar first presented this seal to the public, she suggested that the inscription said “Temah” (reading right to left), like the “sons of Temah” who were Temple servants named in Ezra 2:53. Other scholars soon responded, however, that the seal’s inscription should be read in mirror image (so as to appear correctly when impressed in clay) and instead read “Shelomit.” The name Shelomit appears more than once in the Bible (1 Chronicles 3:19). Mazar now agrees that it is the preferable reading.