is a receipt for payment made by a figure in
the Old Testament but Michael Jursa, a visiting
professor from Vienna, let out such a cry last
Thursday. He had made what has been called
the most important find in Biblical archaeology
for 100 years, a discovery that supports the
view that the historical books of the Old Testament
are based on fact.
Searching for Babylonian financial accounts
among the tablets, Prof Jursa suddenly came
across a name he half remembered - Nabu-sharrussu-ukin,
described there in a hand 2,500 years old,
as "the chief eunuch" of Nebuchadnezzar II,
king of Babylon.
Professor Jursa, an Assyriologist, checked
the Old Testament and there in chapter 39 of
the Book of Jeremiah, he found, spelled differently,
the same name - Nebo-Sarsekim. Nebo-Sarsekim,
according to Jeremiah, was Nebuchadnezzar II's "chief
officer" and was with him at the siege
of Jerusalem in 587 BC, when the Babylonians
overran the city.
The small tablet, the size of "a packet
of 10 cigarettes" according to Irving
Finkel, a British Museum expert, is a bill
of receipt acknowledging Nabu-sharrussu-ukin's
payment of 0.75 kg of gold to a temple in Babylon.
The tablet is dated to the 10th year of the
reign of Nebuchadnezzar II,
595BC, 12 years before the siege of Jerusalem.
The full translation of the tablet reads:
"(Regarding) 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin,
the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to the temple Esangila:
Arad-Banitu has delivered it to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son
of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, and of Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month
XI, day 18, year 10 of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon"