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Archaeologists say a newly discovered clay fragment from the 14th century B.C. is the oldest example of writing ever found in antiquity-rich Jerusalem. Dig director Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University says the 0.8-inch long fragment bears an ancient form of writing known as Akkadian wedge script.

The fragment includes a partial text including the words "you," "them," and "later." It predates the next-oldest example of writing found in Jerusalem by 600 years, and dates roughly four centuries before the Bible says King David ruled a Jewish kingdom from the city.

Mazar said Monday that the fragment likely came from a royal court and suggested more could be found in the most ancient part of Jerusalem, located in the city's predominantly Palestinian eastern sector.

Wayne Horowitz, a scholar of Assyriology at Hebrew University, said the fragment was likely part of a "royal missive." Tablets with diplomatic messages were routinely exchanged between kings in the ancient Near East, and it is likely that the fragment was part of such a message, Horowitz said.

The fragment is believed to be contemporary with about 380 tablets discovered in the 19th century at Amarna in Egypt in the archives of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, or Akhenaten, who lived in the 14th century B.C. The archives include tablets sent to him by the kings who were subservient to him in Canaan and Syria. Among these are six that are addressed from Abdi-Heba, the Canaanite ruler of Jerusalem.

Mazar said the fragment in Jerusalem is most likely part of a message from the king of Jerusalem, possibly Abdi-Heba, back to Egypt.

Times wires

Six decades later, honorary burial

A U.S. Navy ensign missing for decades was among 31 service members buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. Robert Langwell would have been destined for a dark, watery grave if not for the kindness of a fisherman in South Korea who pulled his body from the ocean.

Langwell, a native of Columbus, Ind., died at age 26 aboard the USS Magpie when the ship hit a mine and exploded off the coast of South Korea in 1950, months after the start of the Korean War. Days later, his body got tangled in the fisherman's net and was pulled from the ocean. Local residents buried him in a shallow grave.

Two years ago, a tip from the fisherman led South Korean officials to search for his body. In April of last year, they recovered his remains.

New way to tell Anne Frank story

The Anne Frank House Museum has launched a graphic novel version of the teenage Jewish diarist's biography, hoping to bring her story and death in a Nazi concentration camp to a wider audience. Spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker said Friday that the publication is aimed at teenagers who might not otherwise read Anne Frank's diary, already the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust.

Using the style of comic books to illustrate serious historical topics, even genocide, is not new. Maus, Art Spiegelman's graphic biography of his father, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

Associated Press

Ancient written words found


Percentage of all surgery that is done each year on the world's wealthiest 2 billion people.


Percentage of all surgery that is done each year on the world's poorest 2 billion people.

Source: The Lancet


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