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Looks like some kids were playing with the pottery. A vessel found near the Temple Mount in Israel, dated to the 10th Century B.C. (circa King David) has some writing: a series of consonants in Canaanite: n,q,p,h,n, maybe l. (Note, the words were written without vowels: Nt th wrds wr wrttn wtht vwls. Nothing unusual there). However, the letters don’t up to a word:

The inscription was engraved near the edge of the jar before it was fired, and only a fragment of it has been found, along with fragments of six large jars of the same type. The fragments were used to stabilize the earth fill under the second floor of the building they were discovered in, which dates to the Early Iron IIA period (10th century BCE).


Perhaps the kids were missing with a pot. Maybe it’s the equivalent of a secret decoder ring. Maybe it was a mistake. But it is very old.

UPDATE: Christopher Rollston has weighed in and suggests that the inscription means “pot” or “cauldron”. Not very romantic: http://www.rollstonepigraphy.com/?p=561