These clay stamps don't look like much, but they might help historians understand a lingering question surrounding ancient Israel.
Many historians have questioned the existence of the biblical kings Solomon and David, likening them to the King Arthur myth. At the time the Bible claims they ruled, Israel was more a collection of minor tribes, historians say, than a kingdom.
Not so, two archaeologists from Mississippi State University argue, citing clay seals they discovered in southern Israel. Dated to the 10th century B.C., the six stamps indicate a more complex civilization than other historical records have suggested.
While not exactly a smoking gun, their finding "lends general support to the historical veracity of David and Solomon as recorded in the Hebrew biblical texts," Jimmy Hardin, associate professor in the MSU Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, told Science Daily. Probably used on official documentation, the seals indicate "political or administrative activities going on at a level well beyond those typical of a rural farmstead."
"These appear to be the only known examples of bullae from the 10th century, making this discovery unique," he said.