An archaic bacl inscription from tel beth-shemesh

P. Kyle McCarter*, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Zvi Lederman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two adjoining fragments of a storage jar bearing an archaic alphabetic inscription were found during the renewed excavations at Tel Beth-Shemesh. Analysis indicates that, though found in separate contexts, the two sherds derived from a common source of predominately Late Bronze II and early Iron I materials. A date of 1150-1100 BCE for the provenance of the inscription is most likely. The inscription consists of six or seven alphabetic signs incised on the jar before firing. Though only the word or name element b>l is unequivocally recognizable, the original inscription seems to have included a statement of ownership and an indication of the contents of the vessel. A paleographical analysis of the letter signs shows the writing to be characteristic of the mid-12th century BCE or slightly earlier and a date of ca. 1150 BCE, in accordance with its archaeological context, is entirely plausible. The use of the divine name Ba>l may hint at the cultural background of the Iron Age I population of Beth-Shemesh.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-193
Number of pages15
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Archaic alphabetic inscription
  • Bacl
  • Canaanites
  • Iron Age I
  • Tel Beth-Shemesh


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