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Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla

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« on: January 08, 2012, 04:13:43 am »

Sifting Project Reveals First Temple Bulla

Jerusalem archaeologist Gabriel Barkay announced this week that the Temple Mount Sifting Project has discovered a fragment of a seventh-century B.C.E. clay bulla impressed with the ancient Hebrew inscription [g]b’n lmlk, or “Gibeon, for the king.” According to Barkay, the bulla is evidence for royal taxation of different Judahite cities, in this case the town of Gibeon. More than 50 other such “fiscal bullae” are already known, but most lack contextual information. “All the fiscal bullae known until now come from the antiquities market, and our bulla is the first one to come from a controlled archaeological project,” wrote Barkay on the project’s Web site. “This bulla enables us to fully illuminate and discuss the entire phenomenon of the fiscal bullae.”



http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/sifting-project-reveals-first-temple-bulla/?mqsc=E3021158

A Fiscal Bulla from the Slopes of the Temple Mount – Evidence for the Taxation System of the Judean Kingdom

 Gabriel Barkay

A small fragment of a clay bulla was discovered in the wet sifting carried out at Tzurim Valley National Park, the site of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. The bulla carries an Ancient Hebrew inscription: “[g]b’n/lmlk“, i.e. “Gibeon, for the King”. The bulla originates from the eastern slope of the Temple Mount, descending into the Kidron Valley. The bulla belongs to a group of bullae which were called by N. Avigad “Fiscal Bullae”. Presently we know more than 50 bullae of this type. They comprise two groups, one with names of cities in the kingdom of Judah, and the other with names of royal officials. All the fiscal bullae known until now come from the antiquities market, and our bulla is the first one to come from a controlled archaeological project. This bulla enables us to fully illuminate and discuss the entire phenomenon of the fiscal bullae. The article includes a full list of the previously published fiscal bullae, with a thorough discussion and correction of some of the initial readings. The bullae include names of 19 different cities of Judah, and dates of the reign of one of the Judean kings, usually in hieratic numerals, as well as the particle “lmlk“, “for the king”. The components of the inscriptions are discussed, as well as the geographical history of the bullae, and its comparison to the list of Judean cities in Joshua 15: 20-63. The fiscal bullae represent a taxation system from the different Judean cities, based on yearly taxes, which probably replaced the previous one, reflected in the royal Judean jars and their seal impressions, from the time of King Hezekiah. The discussion includes the characteristic details of the taxation systems of the Samaria Ostraca and the “lmlk” jars, in comparison to the fiscal bullae. A detailed discussion of 13 different arguments is brought to suggest the dating of the fiscal bullae to the time of King Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son (698-642 BCE). The mentioning of Lachish in some of the bullae is directly connected to the question of the date of the reconstruction of that city’s level II. The city is mentioned to pay its taxes in the 19th and 21st regnal years, which could not be in the reign of Hezekiah as the city was destroyed by Sennacherib in 701 BCE, which was Hezekiah’s 14th regnal year. According to our suggestion, Lachish was restored after being in ruins for about 16 years, by King Manasseh, rather than Josiah, as previously suggested.

The discovery of the fiscal bulla with the name of Gibeon from the slope of the Temple Mount, authenticates all the other fiscal bullae, and enables us to study a variety of subjects connected to the history of Judah in the 7th century BCE.

http://templemount.wordpress.com/
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