Fragments of a ceramic jar dating back to the 10th century BC, which were found at Israel's Khirbet Qeiyafa archaeological site, apparently reference a legendary rival of the biblical King David.
When the vessel was reassembled, archaeologists found inscribed in ancient Canaanite script the name of Eshbaʽal Ben Bada, described in the Old Testament as the son of King Saul and second king of the Kingdom of Israel, who was murdered by assassins.
As Professor Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor explained, this is the first ancient inscription featuring Eshba’al’s name ever found in Israel.
"It is interesting to note that the name Eshbaʽal appears in the Bible, and now also in the archaeological record, only during the reign of King David, in the first half of the tenth century BCE," they said.
The Israel Antiquities Authority also suggested that Eshbaʽal was the likely owner of a large agricultural estate, with jars inscribed with his name possibly used to transport the estate’s produce.
"This is clear evidence of social stratification and the creation of an established economic class that occurred at the time of the formation of the United Monarchy," IAA said.