The remains of a building dating back to the end of the First Temple Period in Jerusalem (1006 - 586 BCE) has been found and excavated, below the base of an ancient drainage channel. The channel, believed to be about 2,000 years old, is located beneath Robinson's Arch in the Jerusalem Archaeological Garden, which lies adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in the ancient city.
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), the building could well be the closest structure, found so far from archaeological excavations, to the First Temple and could have been destroyed in a fire. The excavation is being carried out by the Ir David Foundation.
The archaeologists also discovered a seal, from the same period, on the building floor. Archaeologists said the seal, which was made of a semi-precious stone, was a personal one, as it bore an engraving detailing the former owner's name.
"People used personal seals in the First Temple period for the purpose of signing letters and they were set in a signet ring. The seals served to identify their owner, just as they identify officials today," they added.
The seal carries the name "Matanyahu" in the Hebrew language, according to the IAA's Excavation Director, Eli Shukron, who explained the name means "giving to God". Shukron further said the name has been mentioned several times in the Bible and was a name commonly found in the Southern Kingdom of Israel (Kingdom of Judah) towards the end of the First Temple period - from late 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. This is a tangible greeting of sorts from a man named Matanyahu who lived here more than 2,700 years ago," he added.
The archaeologists also discovered the characteristic pottery of the period on the floor in the ancient building.