Israeli authorities displayed on Wednesday a rare papyrus fragment, older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, which features the earliest known Hebrew reference to Jerusalem outside the Bible.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) recovered the fragile document after it was plundered from a cave in the Judean Desert cave by a band of antiquity robbers.
Radiocarbon dating has determined it dates back to the 7th century BC. This is the time of the First Temple, which, according to the Hebrew Bible, was constructed by King Solomon in 957 B.C. and then destroyed 400 years later by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, who exiled many Jews.
Two lines of ancient Hebrew script are clearly visible on the 4-by-1 inch fragment.
"From the king's maidservant, from Naʽarat [a place near Jericho], jars of wine, to Jerusalem," the 2,700 year papyrus reads.
According to experts at the IAA, the fragment was part of a shipping document which detailed the payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jerusalem, the capital city of the kingdom of Judea at that time.