In the wake of the recent summit between the Israeli and Turkish presidents, Ankara has agreed to relinquish to the Jewish state a fragment from the wall of a subterranean Jerusalem tunnel. Known as the Siloam inscription, the text on the fragment is dated by most scholars to the 8th century BCE, the time of the prophet Isaiah. The artifact is currently housed at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Batya Jerenberg writes:
Israel has wanted the Siloam inscription back for years, as it [supports] a biblical account of the building of a water tunnel in Jerusalem in King Hezekiah’s time, 2,700 years ago. As described in both the books of Kings and Chronicles, the king—afraid of a siege on Jerusalem by the Assyrians—ordered that a tunnel be dug from the pool of Siloam outside the city walls in order to bring the water source into the capital.
Written in paleo-Hebrew on the wall of approximately the midpoint of the tunnel, the inscription describes how the excavators, working from both ends simultaneously, heard each other’s voices and cut through the last bit of rock between them so that the water could flow into Jerusalem.
According to an Israeli official, . . . in exchange for the inscription, Israel will give Turkey a religiously important item from its history, probably an ancient candelabra from the Ottoman period.
The museum also has another ancient caption from Jerusalem, known as the Temple Warning Inscription. Etched on the balustrade of the Second Temple, the tablet cautions pagan visitors not to proceed any further towards the Jewish holy site, on penalty of death.