Jewish Gold Lamella
In 2006, archaeologists at the University of Vienna’s Institute of Prehistory and Early History found an inscribed gold plate in a third-century AD Roman cemetery in Halbturn, Austria. One gold and three silver-plated amulets inscribed with pagan magical texts were found in a stone sarcophagus in the cemetery. The gold-plated Jewish amulet, rather than bearing a magical text, is inscribed with the Jewish prayer known as the Shema (“hear”), found in Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” Like the text inscribed on the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, it is scriptural in nature. The inscription shares another feature with the Nephite record: though the text is Hebrew, it is written using a non-Hebrew alphabet, in this case Greek. (The Book of Mormon also used Egyptian characters in its composition.)
Comparing 1 Nephi 1:2 with Mormon 9:32—33, one has the impression that the Nephites employed the “reformed Egyptian” script for transcribing their Hebrew language for just over a thousand years (ca. 600 BC to ca. AD 400). The new find from Austria suggests that the Jews followed a similar system for about the same period of time. The gold-plated artifact from Halbturn was first displayed as part of the “The Amber Road—Evolution of a Trade Route” exhibition in the Burgenland State Museum in Eisenstadt in 2008.
For discussions of the find, see:
• “Gold Scroll Discovered: Earliest Evidence Of Jewish Inhabitants In Austria,” ScienceDaily website, 16 March 2008.
• “Archaeological Sensation in Austria,” Earth Times website, 13 March 2008.
• John A. Tvedtnes, “Inscribed Gold Plate Fits Book of Mormon Pattern,” Insights: An Ancient Window 28/1 (2008).