BAR 38:01, Jan/Feb 2012
When Did Ancient Israel Begin?
New hieroglyphic inscription may date Israel’s ethnogenesis 200 years earlier than you thought
Longtime BAR readers are familiar with the Merneptah Stele, now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which is generally recognized as containing the oldest extrabiblical reference to Israel.a The hieroglyphic inscription can be dated quite precisely to somewhere between 1210 and 1205 B.C.E.
But is it the oldest?
Egyptologists are now twittering about whether there is another hieroglyphic inscription, centuries earlier than the Merneptah Stele, that mentions Israel.