CLAY TABLET FROM EL AMARNA - circa BC 1380

The Tell el-Amarna Letters.
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All round Palestine therefore we now have evidence, unknown to our fathers, of the free use of writing back to a time far earlier than that of Abraham. We can also bring new evidence from Syria and Palestine themselves. In the year 1887 an Egyptian woman found, amid the ruins of an ancient city about half-way between Thebes and Memphis, a collection of some 350 clay tablets inscribed with strange markings. [The tablets are now mainly divided between Berlin and the British Museum.] The city is now well known as Tell el-Amarna, the capital of the remarkable king Amenhotep IV, or Akhenaten, who made a vain attempt to revolutionise the religion of his country, and was the father-in-law of Tutankhamen, the discovery of whose tomb by Lord Carnarvon made such a sensation at the end of 1922. The tablets of Tell el-Amarna, however, raised an almost equal sensation among Oriental scholars; for here, in the middle of Egypt, were documents written not after the manner of the country, in the Egyptian language and upon papyrus, but engraved upon clay in the unmistakable cuneiform, or wedge-shaped script characteristic of Mesopotamia (see Plate II). Nor did their surprise lessen as the writings were deciphered and their meaning ascertained. For these tablets proved to be the official correspondence of Egyptian governors or vassal-princes, from various places in Palestine and Syria, with their overlord, the king of Egypt. Their date is about the year 1380 BC, which, according to the view now generally accepted, and which seems to be confirmed by the recent excavations at Jericho, is the period when Joshua and the Hebrews were overrunning southern Palestine, [There have been two main views of the date of the Exodus, some scholars assigning it to the time of Amenhotep IV (1380-1362), and others to that of Merenptah (1233-1223), the successor of Rameses II. The excavations at Jericho, conducted by Professor J. Garstang for Sir Charles Marston in 1930-36, seem to show that Jericho was destroyed by violence early in the fourteenth century, and thus strongly support the earlier dating.]
while the Hittites were conquering Damascus, and the Amorites were invading Phoenicia. Jerusalem, Lachish, Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, are mentioned by name;
and complaints are made of the assaults of the Habiru, who have been generally regarded as the Hebrews, though the identification is not accepted by all scholars.

Description & picture from 'Our Bible & the Ancient Manuscripts' by Sir Frederick Kenyon (1895 - 4th Ed. 1939) Pg 5 & Plate II. (Page fragment illustrated: 15 x 10cm.) 

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