Garo Nalbandian/Amman Archaeological Museum

A prophet’s story. “[Balaa]m, son of Beor,” say the letters boxed in blue. When considered in conjunction with the top line, which reads in part, “[Ba]laam [son of Beo]r, the man who was a seer of the gods,” there can be little doubt that this inscription refers to the famous Balaam in Numbers 22–24. These plaster wall fragments from Deir ‘Alla, in the Jordan valley, together with others not shown, tell a story about Balaam. The red line above the letters was part of a frame around the text, and the vertical red line at left apparently divided columns of text. This frame and other clues suggest that the inscription, dated to the eighth century B.C., was a copy of a literary manuscript written on a papyrus scroll.