Tel Rehov Temple Storage Jar (900-800 BCE)

For translation methodology see: How to Translate Alphabetic Akkadian Texts

Picture from Mazar (2003). Letter assignments by Olmsted

Map from Mazar (2003)

Jar's Contents Are For Magically Forcing Out  Fertility-Fluids In Order To Manifest Life

(April 22, 2023) This inscription was found on a storage jar. Its letter style is similar to that of the Gezer tablet. It  has not been successfully translated until now.  

Translation in Akkadian

(Read right to left. Capital letters on pot. Small letters are inferred inner vowels. Verb is italic bold)
  1. 'Ṣ  Qu  Mu  U  Ku  Ṣu (Levant Text 5.1)  

In English. 

  1.  To expel the thread's fertility-fluids by involving activity

This jar was found in 1999 at Tel Rahov located in the middle of the fertile Beth Shean valley at the junction of the Jordan River valley and the Jezreel Valley. At the time this text was written this city was one of the largest cities in the state of Israel.

This jar was found in an Iron Age II archaeological layer (stratum IV) which dates it to between 800 and 900 BCE and it was found in a temple complex (Mazar 2003). This building was violently destroyed in a fire probably during the drought induced Yahwist revolution of 850 BCE which destroyed the established order.

The room in which it was found was plastered and full of various items indicating that it was used as a storage room for the temple complex. A series of teaching rooms existed across the hall as evidenced by the built-in benches along their sides.

The inscription was found on a fourteen inch diameter storage jar having two big round handles. These handles make the jar look like a hippo face with ears on top of its head so these jars are called “hippo” jars. The inscription was cut into the surface after the jar was fired. How long before the city’s destruction the inscription was made is not known.

Previous Translation Attempts

Some scholars have different letter assignments then what I identified. As reported in a review of the inscriptions found so far at the site by Mazar (2003). Their letter assignments are (differences in red):

L  ṢQ _ N M

 The worst error is that they leave out a letter

These biased translators want to see the Biblical name “Nimshi” (NMŞ) in this inscription which is referenced 1 Kings 19:16. Consequently, they force the last three letters to fit that name. They do not assign any word to the first three letter


Mazar, A. (2003) Three 10th - 9th Century BCE Inscriptions From Tel-Rahov. Saxa Ioquentur: Studien zur Archäologie Palälstinas/Israels – Festschift für Volkmar Fritz 171-184. Online at
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee showing the droughts
Lake bottom Core sample data from the Sea of Galilee. In historical times it shows two major droughts with several minor ones. Minor droughts are indicated anytime the curves turn downward. 
The 50 year long Great Drought of 1180 to 1140 BCE (Iron Age 1 period) is what ended the Bronze Age and the 5-year long Elijah drought of 845-840 BCE. The yellow gives the tree pollen level while the green gives the non-tree pollen level. (Langut and Finkelsein 2013)

Droughts Defined the Archaeological Periods in the Levant

(May 3, 2023) Droughts separate the archaeological periods in the Levant. States weakened by local droughts were often subject to raids right after the droughts by Mesopotamian empires which were unaffected due to their irrigation. Below is the latest widely accepted chronology proposed by Amihai Mazar in 2014 shown below: 

Droughts According to Drought Chart

  1. 1180-1140 BCE - Great Drought
  2. 980 BCE
  3. 845-840 BCE - Elijah Drought
  4. 732 BCE - led to Assyrian invasion  
  5. 605 BCE - led to Babylonian invasion 

Diagnostic Letter Shapes For Dating

  1. 605 BCE - "A" has square peak. "L" has hooked appendage.
  2. 732 BCE - "A" has pointed peak.  "L" has flat appendage.


Langut, D. Finkelsein, I, Litt, T. (2013) Climate and the Late Bronze Collapse: New Evidence from the Levant. Tel Aviv 40:149-175. Online at
Mazar, Amihai (2005) The Debate over the Chronology of the Iron Age in the Southern Levant: its History, the Current Situation and a Suggested Resolution. pp. 15-30 in: T. Levy and T. Higham (editors), The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating - Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Online at: