2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 14
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


ROSENFELD, Amnon1, ILANI, Shimon1, KRONFELD, Joel2, FELDMAN, Howard R.3 and TELEM, Elan M.3, (1)Geological Survey of Israel, 30 Malkhei Yisrael Street, Jerusalem 95501, Israel, (2)Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, 69978, Israel, (3)Division of Paleontology (Invertebrates), American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, feldspar4@optonline.net

A black fine-grained arkosic sandstone tablet (30x25x9 cm in size), with an ancient Hebrew inscription dating to the First Temple Period, related to the King Jehoash renovation of the Temple, is authenticated by archaeometry. The sandstone, common in the Cambrian strata of southern Israel, was known to ancient engravers in Judea and lies within the boundaries of the Biblical Holy Land. The inscription and patina were studied using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with an energy dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and X-ray diffraction. A rich assemblage of particles accumulated in the patina includes feldspars, clays, iron oxides, subangular quartz grains, carbonates (calcite, dolomite), carbon particles of soot and ash and individual (non-clustered) pure gold spheres 1-4 microns in diameter at about 10 globules/mm2. Marine microfossils of Late Cretaceous to Eocene age found within the patina are the same as those found in the rock exposures and ambient environmental dust of Jerusalem. The patina blankets and thus post-dates the incised weathered letters as well as a fissure that runs across the stone. Within the engravings are found angular iron particles, presumably remnants of the original engraving tool. If common modern tools were used on the engraving there would be traces of Cr, V or Ni, none of which have been detected on the tablet. Aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) analysis yields a calibrated radiocarbon age of cal. yr BP 2340 to 2150, with associated δ13C of -21.1 per mil. Oxygen isotopic analyses indicate a thermal event in close proximity to the tablet. Results of the archaeometic analysis are in conformity with the historical scenario of the destruction and conflagration of the Temple.