Ancient Pottery Jar Handle Inscribed With The Name Menachem Discovered in Yerushalayim

This new discovery is too cool to handle. An ancient pottery jar handle bearing the Hebrew name “Menahem” was uncovered in Ras el-‘Amud, Jerusalem.

Settlement remains dating to two different periods: the Middle Canaanite period (2200–1900 BCE), and the end of the First Temple period (8th–7th centuries BCE), were recently exposed in an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Ras el-‘Amud neighborhood, prior to the construction of a girls’ school by the Jerusalem Municipality.

Among the First Temple period remains is a pottery storage jar handle on which the Hebrew name (ל)מנחם, meaning “(to) Menahem”, is clearly incised. According to archaeologist Dr. Ron Beeri, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “This important find joins similar names that have been found in archaeological excavations in the Ancient East and in Israel in particular. The names Menahem and Yinahem are expressions of condolences – possibly related to the death of family members.”

Dr. Beeri adds that such names already appeared earlier in the Canaanite period: the name Yinahem was found written on an Egyptian pottery sherd attributed to the Eighteenth Dynasty and the name Yinahemu is mentioned in the 14th century BCE El-Amarna letters as the name of an Egyptian governor on the Lebanese coast.

This is the first time that a jar handle with this name has been found in Jerusalem. The name Menahem is known from the corpus of Hebrew or Phoenician names, and seals bearing this name were found in Israel, Assyria, Cyprus, and Egypt. According to the Bible (2 Kings), Menahem ben Gadi ascended the throne in the thirty-ninth year of Uzziah, King of Judah. He reigned as king of Israel in Samaria for ten years and he was one of the last kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

Menahem, king of Israel, is mentioned in the Assyrian texts of Tiglath-Pileser III, king of Assyria, as “Menahem, the Samarian” who paid tribute to the Assyrian king.

Photo: Mariana Salzberger, Israel Antiquities Authority.

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