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Special find for Purim -Persian Love poem found on a pottery shard (2009)

A fragment of a pottery vessel of Persian provenance that dates to the Middle Ages (12th-13th centuries CE) was discovered recently in an archaeological excavation of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the Old City of Jerusalem. The glazed fragment is adorned with floral patterns and a black inscription in Persian, which was identified as part of a love poem of Omar Khayyam, an astronomer, mathematician and one of the most famous Persian poets of the Middle Ages (11th-12th centuries CE). The day that the find was first announced (11th of March) is also the Jewish holiday of Purim. The Holiday commemorates the events documented in the Book of Esther, of how a plan of a Persian official named Haman to exterminate the Jews ended up with his own execution. To this day Jewish children (including my own) celebrate the day of the deliverance of the Jewish population in ancient Persia by dressing in costumes.

A medieval pottery fragment discovered recently in excavations in the old city of Jerusalem

A medieval pottery fragment discovered recently in excavations in the old city of Jerusalem.

The inscription on its neck reads (in Persian): “[This clay] pot, like a lover, once in heat”. The line is part of a Medieval Persian love song whose full text is: This clay pot like a lover once in heat A lock of hair his senses did defeat The handle that has made the bottleneck its own seat Was once the embrace of a lover that entreat

(English translation by Dr Julia Rabanovich)

© Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The next generation of the Hermans dressed for Purim. Photo © Danny Herman

The next generation of the Hermans dressed for Purim. Photo © Danny Herman