Why stress literacy? To read Scripture.

A broken chalkstone inscribed with seven rows of mundane text sheds new light on who could read and write 2,000 years ago in ancient Jerusalem. Discovered during excavations of the City of David’s Pilgrimage Path, the partial inscription appears to be a merchant’s accounting record that lists names, measures and numbers.

The thought-provoking glimpse at ancient Jerusalem daily life was published in the recent edition of the journal ‘Atiqot by Nahshon Szanton, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s excavation director, with Bar Ilan University epigrapher Prof. Esther Eshel.

“The more we find inscriptions from daily life — versus monumental, state-sponsored texts — the more I think that there were many who knew to read and write during this period, especially simple instructions such as found in this inscription,” Eshel told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.