Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says the 6-inch-square curved pottery shard -- known as an ostracon -- was found by a teenage volunteer during excavations of a fortress from the 10th century B.C.
The discovery is being hailed as one of the most important biblical finds in Israel since the Dead Sea scrolls, penned on parchment a millennium later, Arutz Sheva, an Israeli media network reported.
The script, which Garfinkel suggests might have been part of a letter, includes roots of words written in Proto-Canaanite, a precursor of the Hebrew alphabet, tentatively identified as "judge," "slave" and "king," the university said.
The writing suggests the ancient Israelites were literate and could chronicle events centuries before the Bible was written, adding credence to arguments biblical accounts of events are more than myth, Garfinkel said.
The Elah Fortress site, where the shard was found, is in the larger archaeological site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, thought to be the ruins of the dug-over biblical town of Azekah, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem, near the Valley of Elah, where the Bible describes the Israelites as encamping when David fought Goliath.
While generally called Khirbet Qeiyafa, Rabbi Barnea Selavan of the Foundation Stone organization says "the local Bedouins refer to it as -- are you sitting down? -- Khirbet Daudi," or David's Ruins.