Ouria Tadmor, courtesy of Eilat Mazar

OLDEST INSCRIPTION EXAMINED. During the 2012 excavations at the southern wall of the Temple Mount, archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered the oldest alphabetic inscription ever found in Jerusalem. The inscription—written with Northwest Semitic letters on a storage jar—is dated to the 11th or 10th century B.C.—a time before the distinction between Hebrew, Aramaic and Phoenician had been established. At least seven different readings have been proposed for this puzzling inscription. It was apparently made in a place where ordinary workmen made pots, not in the lofty study of a royal scribe, perhaps signaling widespread—if elementary—literacy.