Thursday, March 24, 2022

No, Turkey is not returning the Siloam Inscription to Israel

Times of Israel reported two weeks ago:

Turkey has agreed to return to Israel an ancient inscription from Jerusalem, currently housed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, an Israeli official told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site. It is considered one of the most important ancient Hebrew inscriptions in existence.

The gesture comes amid warming ties between Israel and Turkey and was discussed during the landmark visit of President Isaac Herzog to Ankara earlier this week, said a senior official in the Israeli entourage.

Israel has long sought the return of the so-called Siloam Inscription, a 2,700-year-old ancient Hebrew text that provides concrete historical support for the biblical account of the construction of a tunnel which brought water from the Pool of Siloam to the City of David, below the southern edge of the Temple Mount, during the reign of King Hezekiah.
This was widely shared, and it would be a big deal.

If it was true.

Immediately afterwards, the Daily Sabah, a site close to the Turkish government, denied this story altogether:

Turkish officials denied reports on an Israeli website that the country would return an ancient inscription brought to Turkey from eastern Jerusalem during Ottoman rule.

The artifact, currently in Istanbul Archaeological Museum, is viewed as one of the oldest and most important Hebrew inscriptions in existence.

Turkish diplomatic sources speaking to local media outlets said the claim was “false.” 

Diplomatic sources told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Sunday that east Jerusalem, where the inscription was found in 1880, was part of Ottoman territories back then and it is currently a part of Palestinian territories; thus, it was out of the question to return it to Israel, a third country in Turkey's view. 
The Palestinians like to claim that there is no archaeological evidence that Jews lived in the region. The Siloam  Inscription refutes that. As Wikipedia says,

It is the only known ancient inscription from ancient Israel and Judah which commemorates a public construction work. It is among the oldest extant records of its kind written in Hebrew using the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet,[
(h/t Josh K)

Read all about it here!