Prophet Isaiah's 'signature' may have been found on clay seal

But damage to the inscription removes the final letter that would have spelled out "prophet," so we may never know.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

A team of Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,700-year-old clay seal that may bear the name stamp of the biblical prophet Isaiah.

"We found the eighth-century B.C.E. seal mark that may have been made by the prophet Isaiah himself only 10 feet away from where we earlier discovered the highly-publicized bulla of King Hezekiah of Judah," said Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. ("Bulla" refers to the clay seal impression.) 

According to the Bible, Isaiah was a counselor to the Judean king Hezekiah, which would make the find logical. 

The discovery was made as part of the Ophel Excavations at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The clay seal was found "right outside the royal bakery in undisturbed Iron Age remains," the statement says.

But due to damage to the inscription, it isn't possible to positively identify the seal. The bulla is marked with the Hebrew name of Isaiah, followed by "nvy." But in order for "nvy" to spell out "prophet," it would need to end with the Hebrew letter aleph, but the damage makes that unclear.

"The absence of this final letter... requires that we leave open the possibility that it could just be the name Navi." Mazar said. "The name of Isaiah, however, is clear."

Mazar's article about the seal is in the March/April/May/June double issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

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