Washington, Nov 4 : The oldest known Hebrew text, found in Israel, could lend historical support to some Bible stories, including the one about King David.
According to a report in National Geographic News, the 3,000-year-old pottery shard, with five lines of text, was found during excavations of the Elah Fortress, the oldest known Biblical-period fortress that dates to the 10th century B.C.
The Elah Fortress is above the valley where the biblical character of David is said to have battled Goliath.
It is the most important archaeological discovery in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls, according to lead researcher Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University's Institute of Archaeology.
His team believes that the text may provide evidence for a real-life King David and his vast kingdom, the existence of which has been long doubted by scholars.
Carbon-14 dating of olive pits found at the archaeological site, as well as analysis of pottery remains, also place the text to between 1000 and 975 B.C., the time King David, head of the Kingdom of Israel, would have lived.
"This means that historical knowledge of King David could pass from generation to generation in writing-and not just as oral tradition," Garfinkel said.
The exact nature of the text- believed to be Hebrew written in Proto-Canaanite script, a type of early alphabet-has yet to be determined, but a number of root words have already been translated, including "judge," "slave," and "king."
The newfound Hebrew text has also added new evidence of Judean rule, since key words indicate the text is most likely Hebrew.
According to Garfinkel, the Elah site and newfound writing could provide historic evidence of the United Monarchy in the 10th century B.C.
That's when King David is said to have united Judea and Israel, establishing a large kingdom that stretched between the Nile River in present-day Egypt and the Euphrates in Iraq, according to the Bible.
Though most researchers don't believe this kingdom existed, evidence from the site and pottery shard seems to support the idea of a strong central administration based in nearby Jerusalem, as detailed in the Bible, according to Garfinkel.
"There is a big debate if the Biblical tradition is accurate history or mythology written hundreds of years later. But, this is the first time in the archaeology of Israel we have evidence that in the time of King David such heavily fortified cities were built," said Garfinkel.