An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he believes is the oldest known Hebrew inscription on a 3,000-year-old pottery shard — a find that suggests Biblical accounts of the ancient Israelite kingdom of David could have been based on written texts.

A teenage volunteer discovered the curved shard bearing five lines of faded characters in July in the ruins of an ancient town on a hilltop south of Jerusalem. Yossi Garfinkel, the Israeli archaeologist leading the excavations at Hirbet Qeiyafa, released his conclusions about the writing Thursday after months of study.

He said the relic is strong evidence that the ancient Israelites were literate and could chronicle events centuries before the Bible was written. This could suggest that some of the Bible’s accounts were based on written records as well as oral traditions — adding credence to arguments that the Biblical account of history is more than myth.

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