In its continuing excavations of the drainage channel beneath Robinson's Arch in the Archaeological Garden adjacent to the Temple Mount, The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), has uncovered a Hebrew seal dating back to the First Temple period.
According to a statement released by IAA, the seal "is made of a semi-precious stone and is engraved with the name of its owner: 'Lematanyahu Ben Ho...' ('למתניהובןהו...' meaning: 'Belonging to Matanyahu Ben Ho...'). The rest of the inscription is erased." The seal was found on the floor of the ruins of a building also dating to the end of the First Temple period; a building that IAA said was the closest one to the First Temple found so far in excavations.
Seals were used during the First Temple period by individuals to sign letters and were often set in a signet ring.
According to Eli Shukron, the excavation director, "the name Matanyahu, like the name Netanyahu, means giving to God. These names are mentioned several times in the Bible. They are typical of the names in the Kingdom of Judah in latter part of the First Temple period - from the end of the eighth century BCE until the destruction of the Temple in 586 BCE.
"To find a seal from the First Temple period at the foot of the Temple Mount walls is rare and very exciting," he added. "This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago."
Shalom Almog is the owner of Coral Tours, a provider of tours and travel in Israel.