On Monday, archaeologists revealed they had unearthed a small clay seal they believe belonged to the governor of Jerusalem 2,700 years ago during the late First Temple period.
"This is the first time that such a sealing is found in an authorized excavation. It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago," explained Dr Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah in a statement released by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
"It supports the biblical rendering of the existence of a governor of the city in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago."
There are two references to a governor of Jerusalem in The Bible. The first, mentioned in 2 Kings, is Joshua, who had been appointed to the post by King Hezekiah. The second, Maaseiah, was governor during the reign of Josiah, according to a passage in 2 Chronicles.
While this discovery in no way proves the existence of a governor Joshua or a governor Maaseiah (let alone King Hezekiah and King Josiah), it does provide the first solid archaeological evidence to suggest that there were city governors during biblical times.
The seal was found at a site close to the plaza of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, where archaeologists have been digging for the past five years. It is currently being held on temporary exhibit at the mayor's office.
The tiny artifact – no bigger than a small coin – is engraved with the phrase “le-sar ha-ir”, Hebrew for “belonging to the governor of the city”. There are also two embossed figures of men wearing striped clothing standing face-to-face with one another.
Weksler-Bdolah believes it could have been a logo or souvenir presented on behalf of the governor.
"The sealing had been attached to an important transport and served as some sort of logo, or as a tiny souvenir, which was sent on behalf of the governor of the city," said Weksler-Bdolah, reports the Israel Antiquities Authority.
"It is likely that one of the buildings in our excavation was the destination of this transport sent by the city governor,” she added.
This is the seventh seal to be discovered at the site and supports the theory that high-ranking officials during the First Temple period resided here, on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem.
The discovery comes less than a month after President Trump made the hugely controversial decision to declare Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, the capital of Israel.