Thursday, November 30, 2017

Textiles from Iron Age I Meggido

ARCHAEOLOGY: Hidden hoard hints at how ancient elites protected the family treasures. A find from Israel reveals clues about Iron Age wealth protection (Bruce Bower, Science News).
BOSTON — Long before anyone opened a bank account or rented a safe deposit box, wealth protection demanded a bit of guile and a broken beer jug. A 3,100-year-old jewelry stash was discovered in just such a vessel, unearthed from an ancient settlement in Israel called Megiddo in 2010. Now the find is providing clues to how affluent folk hoarded their valuables at a time when fortunes rested on fancy metalwork, not money.

This is outside PaleoJudaica's usual range, but a detail of this story caught my eye. This jewelry hoard from about 1100 BCE Megiddo was wrapped in two linen cloths and the linen cloths still survived. You can see them wadded up in the photo. They aren't in great shape, but they are there. So some textiles that had been hidden in a jar survived for 3000 years. Regular readers will see where I am going with this. The implication is that if someone in the time of the United Monarchy had sealed up some scrolls in a jar (like some of the Dead Sea Scrolls) in the region of Megiddo, they would have had a reasonable chance of surviving to the present.

This and the evidence from the Timna Valley excavation give us some hope that someday we may find inscribed scroll fragments from the time of the United Monarchy, or even a bit earlier. If someone hid them in jars, they could still be there. We have no way of know whether such scrolls were hidden, but there is clear evidence that if they were, their survival to the present is within the realm of possibility.

Let's just keep that in mind.

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.