In late 2013, interesting fresh evidence dating back five and a half millennia was found, giving insights into the enigma of the Mesopotamian clay balls.
Through use of CT scanning to peer into the clay balls, the study came to a revealing conclusion that the balls may in fact illustrate the world’s “very first data storage system”.
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, Ze’ev Elkin, described Peki’in as one of the most significant sites in the Galilee.“It is a place where there has always been a Jewish presence,” said Elkin.
“It’s a great honor for me that during my tenure in office such an important discovery has been made that tells this 2,000-year-old story of the Land of Israel.”Uriel Rosenboym, director of Beit Zinati, described the find as a “historical discovery of unparalleled importance,” that unequivocally confirms what the late president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi long maintained in the early 20th century about the Jewish settlement at Peki’in.“No one can argue with a written artifact,” said Rosenboym.
This conclusion was based on an analysis of a comparable 3,300-year-old clay ball found at a site in Mesopotamia that held 49 pebbles and a cuneiform text containing a contract commanding a shepherd to care for 49 sheep and goats.
With no further evidence, this theory remained just one possible explanation for their use and function.
“There was an ancient synagogue here, and the synagogue was built in its current form in recent centuries.
We thank the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, which aims to preserve the heritage of Peki’in’s Jews.”Rosenboym continued: “We are pleased to open the new museum, with a historic message about this ancient community.Even if this hypothesis proved correct, it was still unclear exactly how the balls would have worked to record the exchange of commodities in prehistoric times, at a time when writing was absent.In a search for answers, the researchers peered deeper into the clay spheres.An 1,800-year-old limestone column capital engraved with two Hebrew inscriptions dating to the Roman period was discovered during a recent restoration and conservation project carried out in an ancient synagogue in Peki’in, located near the Western Galilee.The Israel Antiquities Authority said the work is being conducted by the Council for Conservation of Heritage Sites in Israel as part of a project by the Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Ministry.However, he noted that there are scholars who disagree with the identification of the location of Peki’in.“I believe that these inscriptions will add an important tier to our knowledge about the Jewish settlement in the village of Peki’in during the Roman and Byzantine periods,” said Lerer.