Archaeologists have found evidence that some 2,000 years ago financial records were made in stone. It is a fragmented lid of a hand-sized ossuary (burial chest) on which seven lines of text mentioning the names of people and amounts of money have been preserved. This find was made in the oldest inhabited area of Jerusalem, the City of David.
The translated portions of the check’s text include the names of the people and the numbers written next to them. Archaeologists state that these letters and numbers are most likely an account of financial activity, possibly payments to workers.
Experts have noticed that one of the lines shows the name Shimon, a popular biblical male name in the early Roman period. The name is followed by the Hebrew letter mem, the abbreviation ma’ot – in Hebrew it means “money.
The stone was found in a pile of garbage during an excavation in 2016 on the Pilgrim Road, a major thoroughfare often used in the early Roman period. This road was probably a commercial center, according to previous finds of stone weights and measuring tables, which were probably part of ancient trade.
The type of writing and stone and its similarity to other stones has helped archaeologists date it between the first century BC and the first century AD. In addition, four other Hebrew inscriptions similar to names followed by numbers have been discovered, but this is the first of its kind from Jerusalem.
“At first glance, the list of names and numbers may not seem exciting. But the very fact that, as today, the receipts were also used in the past for commercial purposes, and that such a receipt has come down to us, is a rare and pleasant find that provides a glimpse into daily life in the holy city of Jerusalem,” the study authors said in a statement.
The find is of great interest to researchers as it provides a deeper understanding of the daily life of the ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem and their financial transactions. Archaeologists are currently continuing excavations along the Pilgrim Road, hoping to find more ancient artifacts that will help unlock the mysteries of the past.