Jar handles stamped with the owner’s name have turned up several times in the Dan excavation. The destruction layer attributed to the conquest of northern Israel in 733/732 B.C.E. by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III yielded such an inscription in 1986 (top). The paleo-Hebrew script reads l‘mdyo (belonging to Immadiyo). The name means “God is with me.” The element yo or yau was the form used in the northern kingdom of Israel for Yahweh, the Israelite God.

Another eighth-century B.C.E. example (above), found in 1988, bears the name zkryo in paleo-Hebrew script. Transliterated with vowels, this spells Zechariah or Zachariah (meaning “God [Yahweh] remembers” or “May God [Yahweh] remember”). Twenty-seven people in the Bible have this name, and one of them is King Zechariah of Israel, who reigned for six months in about 753 B.C.E. It is tantalizing to think that the jar may have been royal property, but this must remain in the realm of conjecture.