One of the things that drew archaeologists David Ussishkin and Israel Finkelstein back to Megiddo in 1994 was this broken cuneiform tablet that had surfaced at the end of the University of Chicago’s expedition to the site in 1939. Rather than being discovered by the excavators, however, it was recovered from a dump of excavated soil by a local shepherd from Kibbutz Megiddo after the Chicago team had finished digging.

The tablet is inscribed on both sides with a total of 37 lines of cuneiform writing. The text includes a portion of the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian legend that bears a striking resemblance, in parts, to the Biblical flood story. Scholars date this tablet to the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550–1200 B.C.E.) and believe it may suggest the presence of an ancient scribal school at Megiddo.

Intrigued by this extraordinary find from the Megiddo dump and the possibility of a cuneiform archive still buried there, Ussishkin and Finkelstein mounted their own excavation at the site. The cuneiform archive remains elusive, but perhaps more clues lie hidden in the dumps themselves.