Three shekel ostracon

Last updated

The Three shekel ostracon is a pottery fragment bearing a forged text supposedly dating from between the 7th and 9th century BCE. [1] It is 8.6 centimeters high and 10.9 centimeters wide and contains five lines of ancient Hebrew writing. [2] The inscription mentions a king named Ashyahu (אשיהו ’Ašyahu) donating three shekels (about 20–50 grams of silver) to the House of Yahweh. No king named Ashyahu is mentioned in the Bible, but some scholars believe it may refer to Jehoash (יהואש Yəhō’āš), who ruled Judea 802–787 BCE. [3]

The ostracon was purchased by Shlomo Moussaieff from the Jerusalem antiquities dealer Oded Golan. Doubts about the authenticity of this and other artefacts sold by Golan began to be expressed in the late 1990s, and in 2003 Professor Christ Rollston, a leading authority on Northwest Semitic inscriptions, said he is "confident beyond a reasonable doubt" that the "three shekel ostracon" is a forgery. [4] The same negative conclusion was reached on the basis of scientific examination of the patina. [5]


According to your order, Ashya-
hu the king, to give by the hand
of [Z]ekaryahu silver of Tar-
shish for the house of Yahweh
three shekels. [6] [2]

Related Research Articles

James Ossuary limestone box asserted to be that which originally held the bones of James of the New Testament, but contested as a forgery

The James Ossuary is a 1st-century limestone box that was used for containing the bones of the dead. An Aramaic inscription in the Hebrew alphabet meaning "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" is cut into one side of the box. The inscription is considered significant because, if genuine, it might provide archaeological evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. However, while the ossuary itself is accepted as authentic to the time period, the inscription itself could be a modern forgery.

The Jehoash Inscription is the name of a controversial artifact rumored to have surfaced in a construction site or Muslim cemetery near the Temple Mount of Jerusalem.

Ostracon Broken piece of pottery with inscription

An ostracon is a piece of pottery, usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel. In an archaeological or epigraphical context, ostraca refer to sherds or even small pieces of stone that have writing scratched into them. Usually these are considered to have been broken off before the writing was added; ancient people used the cheap, plentiful and durable broken pieces of pottery around them as convenient places to place writing for a wide variety of purposes, mostly very short inscriptions, but in some cases surprisingly long.

Oded Golan is an Israeli engineer, entrepreneur, and antiquities collector. He owns one of the largest collections of Biblical archaeology in the world.

Tel Arad Archaeological mound located west of the Dead Sea

Tel Arad is an archaeological tel, or mound, located west of the Dead Sea, about 10 kilometres west of the modern Israeli city of Arad in an area surrounded by mountain ridges which is known as the Arad Plain. The site is divided into a lower city and an upper hill which holds the only ever discovered "House of Yahweh" in the land of Israel. Tel Arad was excavated during 18 seasons by Ruth Amiran and Yohanan Aharoni.

Paleo-Hebrew alphabet Script used in the historic kingdoms of Israel and Judah by Israelites

The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, also spelled Palaeo-Hebrew alphabet, also known as Proto-Hebrew, was the script that was used in the historic kingdoms of Israel and Judah, specifically to record the Hebrew language. Proto-Hebrew, like the Phoenician alphabet, is a slight regional variant and an immediate continuation of the Proto-Canaanite script, which was used throughout Canaan in the Late Bronze Age. Hebrew is attested epigraphically from about the 10th century BCE, and no extant "Phoenician" inscription is older than 1000 BCE. The Phoenician language, Hebrew language, and all of their sister Canaanite languages were largely indistinguishable dialects before that time. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet is an abjad of 22 (consontantal) letters. Use of the term "Paleo-Hebrew alphabet" is due to a 1954 suggestion by Solomon Birnbaum, who argued that "[t]o apply the term Phoenician to the script of the Hebrews is hardly suitable".

Siptah Penultimate Pharaoh of the 19th dynasty

Akhenre Setepenre Siptah or Merenptah Siptah was the penultimate ruler of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt. His father's identity is currently unknown. Both Seti II and Amenmesse have been suggested although the fact that Siptah later changed his royal name or nomen to Merneptah Siptah after his Year 2 suggests rather that his father was Merneptah. If correct, this would make Siptah and Seti II half-brothers since both of them were sons of Merneptah.

Shlomo Moussaieff was an Israeli jeweler, of Bukharan Jewish descent, who was the grandson of the wealthy gemstone trader Rabbi Moussaieff from Uzbekistan. Founder of Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd., he and his wife and business partner, Alisa, were ranked No. 315 on the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, with a fortune estimated at £220 million. Moussaieff produced precious jewellery for international royalty and high society, including Western royalty as well as those from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states. He spoke Arabic fluently. In addition, Moussaieff was regarded as one of the world's top private collectors of antiquities associated with the Bible and ancient Near East, with a collection of 60,000 artefacts.

Meṣad Hashavyahu is an ancient fortress on the border of ancient Judea facing the Philistine city of Ashdod near the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 1.7 km south of Yavne-Yam and 7 km northwest of Yavne. The original name of the fort is unknown, but was given the name found on several inscribed pottery shards (ostraca) recovered at the site. The site covers an area of approximately 1.5 acres (6,100 m2).

First Jewish Revolt coinage

First Jewish Revolt coinage was issued by the Jews after the Zealots captured Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple from the Romans in 66 AD at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt. The Jewish leaders of the revolt minted their own coins to emphasize their newly obtained independence from Rome.

Tyrian shekel

Tyrian shekels, tetradrachms, or tetradrachmas were coins of Tyre, which in the Roman Empire took on an unusual role as the medium of payment for the Temple tax in Jerusalem, and subsequently gained notoriety as a likely mode of payment for Judas Iscariot.

Lachish letters

The Lachish Letters or Lachish Ostraca, sometimes called Hoshaiah Letters, are a series of letters written in carbon ink in Ancient Hebrew on clay ostraca. The letters were discovered at the excavations at Lachish.

Ivory pomegranate

The Ivory Pomegranate is a thumb-sized semitic ornamental artifact acquired by the Israel Museum. It is not actually made of ivory, but of hippopotamus bone and bears an inscription; Holy (Sacred) to the Priest of the House of God (YHWH).

Solomons Temple Legendary temple described in the Hebrew Bible

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the Holy Temple in ancient Jerusalem before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. The period in which the First Temple presumably, or actually, stood in Jerusalem, is known in academic literature as the First Temple period.

Ancient synagogues in Palestine

Ancient synagogues in Palestine refers to synagogues and their remains in the region commonly referred to as Palestine, built by the Jewish and Samaritan communities from the time of the Hasmonean dynasty during the Late Hellenistic period, to the Late Byzantine period.

House of Yahweh ostracon is the name sometimes given to Ostracon 18, a pottery sherd dated to the 6th century BCE found with a collection of other ostraca in the excavation of Tel Arad.

 This is a part of Hebrew literature
The earliest known precursor to Hebrew is an inscription in Ancient Hebrew is the Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription, if it can indeed be considered Hebrew at that early a stage. By far the most varied, extensive and historically significant body of literature written in the old Classical Hebrew is the canon of the Hebrew Bible, but certain other works have survived as well. It was not unusual for ancient narratives, poetry and rules to have been transmitted orally for several generations before being committed to writing. Before the Aramaic-derived modern Hebrew alphabet was adopted circa the 5th century BCE, the Phoenician-derived Paleo-Hebrew script was used instead for writing, and a derivative of the script still survives to this day in the form of the Samaritan script.

Archaeological remnants of the Jerusalem Temple

Several kinds of archaeological remnants of the Jerusalem Temple exist. Those for what is customarily called Solomon's Temple are indirect and some are challenged. There is extensive physical evidence for the temple called the Second Temple that was built by returning exiles around 516 BCE and stood until its destruction by Rome in the year 70 CE.

Tel Zeton

Tel Zeton (Hebrew: תל זיתון‎, also known as Tell Abu Zeitun, is an archaeological site located in the Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak, Israel. It lies 800 m south of the Yarkon River. The mound rises to a height of 9 m above its surroundings and spans an area of 2–3 dunams. The site was inhabited in the Middle Bronze Age and later in the Iron and Persian periods. Jacob Kaplan identified the fortified settlement from the Persian period as Jewish settlement from the time of the Return to Zion in the 5th century BCE, thanks to an ostracon bearing a Hebrew name which appears in the Hebrew Bible in the context of these events. The site was inhabited until at least the 10th century CE, during the Roman, Byzantine, Early Arab and Mamluk periods.


  1. John Noble Wilford Published: November 11, 1997 (1997-11-11). "Temple Receipt for a 3-Shekel Donor - New York Times". Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  2. 1 2 "Byt Yhwh Ostracon". 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  3. Stieglitz, Robert. "Ashyahu: He's Josiah | The BAS Library". Retrieved 2012-10-01.
  4. The Moussaieff Ostraca, Bibliographic Notes
  5. Yuval Goren, Miryam Bar-Matthews, Avner Ayalon and Bettina Schilman (2005). "Authenticity Examination of Two Iron Age Ostraca from the Moussaieff Collection". Israel Exploration Journal . 55 (1): 21–34.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. Translation according to Shanks, Hershel: "Three Shekels for the Lord. Ancient Inscription Records Gift to Solomon's Temple." Biblical Archaeology Review 23.6 (Nov/Dec 1997) 28-32.