A stamped, fired piece of clay from 2,700 years ago provides archaeological evidence that the office of governor of Jerusalem existed during biblical times.

The clay seal was found during the Israel Antiquities Authority’s excavations at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem at a layer dating to the sixth or seventh century B.C.E. (the First Temple period) and was presented to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat during a ceremony in the last week of 2017.

The upper part of the seal, which is a little more than half an inch in diameter, depicts two figures facing each other, and the lower part contains an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that has been translated as “belonging to the governor of the city.”

The clay seal from the First Temple period refers to the governor of Jerusalem. (Photo by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

The office of the governor of Jerusalem is mentioned in the Bible in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, holding the clay artifact, says, “It is very overwhelming to receive greetings from First Temple-period Jerusalem. This shows that already 2,700 years ago, Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, was a strong and central city.” (Photo by Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, the excavator of the site, said the seal was “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.”

One of the buildings in the excavation site probably was the destination of the transport sent by the governor, she said. “The finding of the sealing with this high-rank title, in addition to the large assemblage of actual seals found in the building in the past, supports the assumption that this area, located on the western slopes of the western hill of ancient Jerusalem, some 100 meters west of the Temple Mount, was inhabited by highly ranked officials during the First Temple period.”