In 2007, archaeologists found a limestone fragment in the oldest part of Jerusalem, about the size of a human hand, bearing two lines of text in ancient Hebrew script; most of it had been rendered illegible by the ravages of time. Now two researchers report they have made headway in deciphering the inscription. Christopher Eames writes:
Judah’s 8th-century BCE King Hezekiah is well known from archaeology, as well as the Bible. . . . Yet for not only Hezekiah in particular, but the kings of Judah in general, there has been one thing missing: “monumental”-style inscriptions, or stelae, of the sort well known and preserved in the likes of Assyria, Babylon. and Egypt. Inscriptions that have thus far been unveiled naming biblical kings of Israel and Judah have largely been of the “miniature” variety—royal seal stamps, or bullae, such as those referencing Jeroboam, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. As such, a prevailing belief has been that the kings of Judah and Israel did not have “monumental”-style inscriptions to record their own achievements.
But the new conclusions reached by Eli Shukron, who discovered the limestone fragment, and the epigrapher Gershon Galil, suggest the fragment might have been part of just such a monumental inscription:
The first line is reconstructed as ח]זקיה]/[Ḥ]zqyh/[He]zekiah (with the initial letter “ḥ/ח” missing). The second line is reconstructed as the word “pool,” Hebrew breykhah, (again with the initial letter having been broken off, thus ב]רכה]). Of course, Hezekiah is noted several times throughout the Hebrew Bible in regard to the construction of pools and water works. Further, the discovery was made at just such a “pool” location.
This “new” inscription has further been linked with a fragment found by famous archaeologist Yigal Shiloh in 1978, somewhat further to the south of the Giḥon Spring. The stone and lettering are of the same type. This text, again fragmentary, includes the word “seventeen/seventeenth”—as such, when put together with the abovementioned monument, it may thus identify the inscription as relating to Hezekiah’s seventeenth year of reign (thus circa 709 BCE—Hezekiah reigned for a total of 29 years).