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Ancient object unearthed in Jerusalem depicts something a cashier may hand you today

Photo from the Israel Antiquities Authority

A stone fragment pulled from a pile of rubble in Jerusalem was revealed to be a rare record of an ancient business transaction, officials said.

The stone, which is only about 4 inches long, is part of a receipt that dates to the Roman period, making it about 2,000 years old, according to a study published in the journal Atiqot.

It was found in an underground tunnel that might have once functioned as a commercial thoroughfare, researchers said. British archaeologists previously excavated the site near the end of the 19th century.

About seven lines of text written in cursive and “non-professional” Hebrew or Aramaic are carved into the fragment.

A series of names can be observed on the right side, including Shimʽon, “the most popular name for Jewish Palestinian males in this period,” researchers said. The left side contains numbers that correspond with the names.

While the specifics of the transactions are not clear, the stone itself hints at who might have been involved in them.

Based on its size and flatness, researchers determined the stone to be a piece of an ossuary, a chamber similar to a coffin that would have held human remains.

“We might suggest that our inscription was inscribed by the ossuary craftsman, who documented his sales: money paid or still owed by his clients,” researchers said.

While similar findings have been made elsewhere, it is the first such inscription to be found in Jerusalem.

“At first glance, the list of names and numbers may not seem exciting, but to think that, just like today, receipts were also used in the past for commercial purposes, and that such a receipt has reached us, is a rare and gratifying find that allows a glimpse into everyday life in the holy city of Jerusalem,” researchers stated in a May 17 news release from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

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