Source: The Australian. Go there for the full article.
THE British Museum yesterday hailed a discovery within a clay tablet in its collection as a breakthrough for biblical archeology - proof of the accuracy of the Old Testament.
The cuneiform inscription in a tablet dating from 595BC has been deciphered for the first time - revealing a reference to an official at the court of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, that proves the historical existence of a figure mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah.
It is rare evidence in a non-biblical source of a real person, other than kings, featured in the Bible.
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The tablet names a Babylonian officer called Nebo-Sarsekim who, according to Jeremiah 39 was present in 587BC when Nebuchadnezzar "marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it".
The cuneiform inscription records how Nebo-Sarsekim lavished a gift of gold on the Temple of Esangila in the fabled city of Babylon, where, at least in folk tradition, Nebuchadnezzar is credited with building the Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
British Museum staff are excited by the discovery. Irving Finkel, assistant keeper in the Department of the Middle East, said: "A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. "This is a tablet that deserves to be famous."
The discovery was made by Michael Jursa, associate professor at the University of Vienna, on a research trip to the museum. "It's very exciting and very surprising," he said.
"Finding something like this tablet, where we see a person mentioned in the Bible making an everyday payment to the temple in Babylon and quoting the exact date, is quite extraordinary."
Since 1991, Dr Jursa has been visiting the museum to study a collection of more than 100,000 inscribed tablets - the world's largest holdings.
Cuneiform is the oldest known form of writing. During its 3000-year history, it was used to write about 15 languages, including Babylonian, Assyrian, Hittite and Urartian.
There are only a small number of scholars worldwide who can read cuneiform script.
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