Historians Uncover Shocking 2,000 Year Old Artifact

When historians got a good look at a stone tablet fragment from 2,000 years ago, discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority, they realized it was an ordinary transaction receipt. At roughly the time Jesus of Nazareth was preaching to sell-out crowds, someone along the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road in Jerusalem had a record made of what looks like some sort of “financial transaction.” They aren’t saying so but another possibility is that he was an ancient bookie.

2,000-year-old receipt

The next time the clerk at the supermarket hands you a receipt, you’ll look at the piece of paper with a new respect. Proof of financial transactions has been around since biblical times and the contract terms really were “carved in stone.

The Israel Antiquities Authority say the fragment they found has “the name ‘Shimon‘ inscribed in Hebrew, reportedly accompanied by lines of letters and numbers suggesting a financial record was taken and indicating that money was involved in a transaction.” Or, it was a betting slip.

At first glance, the names and numbers may not seem exciting, but to think that, just like today, receipts were also used in the past for commercial purposes, and that such a receipt has reached us, is a rare and gratifying find that allows a glimpse into everyday life in the holy city of Jerusalem.

It gives the modern world a glimpse into “the everyday life of the inhabitants of Jerusalem who resided here 2,000 years ago.

What makes the find so special is the fact it’s such a simple object. Before this, archaeologists have dug up similar objects but none so closely resembling a modern receipt.

Four other similar Hebrew inscriptions dating to the Early Roman period, the era also known as the time of Jesus Christ, have also been found in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh, according to Excavation Director Nahshon Szanton and Esther Eshel, an epigraphist and a professor with Bar-Ilan University.

First of its kind

This most recent discovery “is the first of its kind to have been found from this historic period within boundaries of the city of Jerusalem.” The researchers explain the inscription on the receipt “was carved using a sharp tool on a chalkstone slab.” It’s noteworthy that those sort of slabs were “traditionally used as an ossuary or burial chest in Jerusalem and Judea between 37 B.C. to 70 A.D.

That doesn’t suggest that maybe it was a will but rather might have been a bill presented by the ossuary merchant. “Ossuaries are generally found in graves outside the city, but their presence has also been documented inside the city, perhaps as a commodity sold in a local artisan’s workshop or store,” the official statement noted.

This “historic receipt was found in the lower city along the Pilgrimage Road, roughly one third of a mile in length and connecting the city gate from the south of the City of David to the Temple Mount.

Jesus would have considered it a freeway. This road “essentially served as the main thoroughfare of Jerusalem at the time.

The combination of the architectural and tangible space of the huge, paved stones of the square that were preserved at the site and the discovery of small finds in this area, such as the measuring table and the new inscription, allow us to reconstruct parts of the incredibly unique archaeological puzzle in one of the vibrant centers that existed in ancient Jerusalem,” the team leaders write.

This receipt helps “shed light on the centrality of this road even during the Second Temple period. With every discovery, our understanding of the area deepens, revealing this street’s pivotal role in the daily lives of Jerusalem’s inhabitants 2,000 years ago.

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