On October 8, 2018, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem unveiled a 2,000-year-old limestone column drum bearing the inscription: “Hanania son of Dudolos from Jerusalem.”

The reason why the column drum made international headlines was not because Hanania is known from history or because Second Temple period finds are unusual. The inscription is the earliest full spelling in stone of the word Jerusalem, spelled exactly in Hebrew as it is pronounced in modern times, Yerushalayim.

In the Roman period, Jerusalem was most often written in Aramaic shorthand “Yerushalem” or “Shalem.” Before the drum was excavated, the earliest known reference to Jerusalem with the full spelling was on a coin of the Great Revolt against the Romans. The column drum predates the coin by 150 years. The Dead Sea Scrolls, many of which predate the column, use the full spelling Yerushalayim with regularity. There was never a question as to what first century Jerusalemites called their capital. The glory comes from seeing the remnant of a professional hand inscribing the name of Jerusalem in stone. The span of time from then to now suddenly collapses in the imagination.