A Jerusalem museum puts tablets dating back to 500-600 BC on display for the first time in an exhibition that reveals the life of Judeans in ancient Babylon. Tara Cleary reports.
The inscriptions on these tablets are a vital link to the lives of Judeans exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon some 2,500 years ago. The wedge-shaped tablets were found in Iraq, which was then Babylon, and were acquired by an Israeli collector. They're currently on show at Jerusalem's Bible Lands Museum. Ancient Babylonia expert, Filip Vukosavovic, says the tablets show that the exiled Judeans rebuilt their lives. SOUNDBITE: Filip Vukosavovic, expert in ancient Babylonia, Sumeria and Assyria, saying (English): "Finally we have a complete picture, complete story, complete movie, that can simply tell to everybody what happened to those Judeans that survived the exile." The exhibition focuses on one Judean family over four generations, all with biblical Hebrew names, many of which are still in use today. The tablets are inscribed in Akkadian script and detail trade in food and other commodities, taxes paid, debts owed and credits accumulated. While many Judeans returned to Jerusalem after 539 BC once the Babylonians allowed them to, many others stayed and built up a vibrant Jewish community.