The inscription in the Canaanite language engraved on a large pithos, a neckless ceramic jar found near the Temple Mount, is the only one of its kind discovered in Jerusalem and an important addition to the city's history, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported Wednesday.
Dated to the 10th century B.C., the artifact predates by 250 years the earliest known Hebrew inscription from Jerusalem, from the period of King Hezekiah at the end of the eighth century B.C., archaeologists said.
The inscription was engraved near the edge of the jar before it was fired, they said, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six large jars of the same type.
The inscription is not complete and probably wound around the jar's shoulder. The discovered portion is just the end of the inscription and one letter from the beginning, they said.
The inscription probably identified the jar's contents or the name of its owner, researchers said.
The inscription is in a proto-Canaanite/early Canaanite script of the 11th to 10th centuries B.C., which predates the Israelite rule and the prevalence of Hebrew script, they said.