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An allegedly cursed tablet has raised archaeological eyebrows after it showed that the earliest parts of the Bible could have been written by eyewitnesses.
The folded tablet, discovered on Mount Ebal in the Holy Land, contained a curse on the inside and dates back to 1,200-14,000BC.
Inside, the text warns that the reader is "cursed by the God, Yahweh" and "cursed you will surely die," with the text written in proto-alphabetic Hebrew text.
Mount Ebal, known for its association with curses, housed the tablet which could feature the earliest inscription of the Hebrew word for God, YHWH.
If the dating is correct, the tablet could prove that Israelites were literate when they entered the Holy Land and were also able to document Biblical times as and when they happened.
Archaeologist Dr Scott Stripling said: "It's extremely important. Some are describing this as the most important find of our lifetimes because it predates anything we have before regarding Hebrew scripts.
"So big questions like: was the Bible written when it purports to have been written, was there an alphabetic script even in existence by which writers like Moses and Joshua could have written?
"Many critics have, up to this point, argued against that, and said ‘no, it was written much, much later in the Persian period or the Hellenistic period'."
Dr Stripling, who called the discovery an "earthquake" says the finding "tilts the scales in another direction".
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He added that it was "older than any Hebrew that we have" and added that the lead comes from ancient Greece where "the mines were known to have been in use in the late bronze age".
The end of the bronze age is dated approximately to 1,200BC, with the potentially ancient tablet being found in December 2019.
Dr Stripling says the enormity of the discovery was evident as soon as he laid eyes on it.
He said: "I thought this is too good to be true. The Bible describes Mount Ebal in Joshua chapter eight as the mountain of the curse, and Joshua is told to write curses on Ebal.
"So here we had what was a known curse tablet from a site that the Bible says cursing's were associated with it. I was just blown away by what we had found.
"Is it a summary of all the curses of Deuteronomy 28 and 29, for example? Because there you have all these curses if you break the covenant that are going to come upon you. By having this structure, is that a literary summary of those?”
Dr Stripling and his collaborators intend to publish their findings academically later this year.
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