Ancient Graffiti: A Postcard from the Past

Israeli archaeologists are studying ancient graffiti found in many caves in Israel.  One of the graffiti has the name of Jesus.  Below is an excerpt from an article published in The Jerusalem Post:

HIRBET BURJIN, Israel – It’s hot. A haze of heat hangs flat over a copse of hundred-year-old oaks and dry scrubland of the Judean foothills where people may have lived for millennia, but not a soul is around today.

“Don’t worry. The air conditioner is on inside,” jokes Boaz Zissu, a rugged, tall archaeologist with a swagger that makes it easy to conjure up his past as the former commander of the unit for protection of antiquities in Israel.

Shortly later, after clambering through the thicket and fig trees, crawling down steps carved into the earth, we are sitting in the cool, darkened halls of a cave staring at its white limestone walls and trying to decipher the mysterious scratches.

“It says ‘Christo.’ It’s the name of Jesus but in vocative, like ‘O Jesus,’” says Zissu, pointing out the ancient Greek letters chi and epsilon carved about chest height.

According to an Israeli archaeologist, “the study of ancient graffiti has been somewhat neglected, but efforts are underway now by an international team of scholars to publish all the inscriptions found in Israel dating from Alexander the Great, fourth century B.C.E. to Mohammad, the seventh century C.E. The corpus will contain some 13,000 texts in more than 10 languages.”

The article in The Jerusalem Post also has a video showing many of the ancient graffiti.

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1 Response to Ancient Graffiti: A Postcard from the Past

  1. Daniel says:

    Very interesting. A real treasure trove for the linguist I would imagine. Hopefully the site can be protected from destruction.

    An interesting video on the status of the lead codices My apologies if this is too far off topic.


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