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JERUSALEM (CNN) — An Israeli archaeologist has discovered what he says is the earliest-known Hebrew text, found on a shard of pottery that dates to the time of King David from the Old Testament, about 3,000 years ago.

The shard -- or ostracon -- contains five lines of text divided by black lines.

The shard — or ostracon — contains five lines of text divided by black lines.

Professor Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says the inscribed pottery shard — known as an ostracon — was found during excavations of a fortress from the 10th century BC.

Carbon dating of the ostracon, along with pottery analysis, dates the inscription to time of King David, about a millennium earlier than the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the university said.

The shard contains five lines of text divided by black lines and measures 15 by 15 centimeters, or about 6 inches square.

Archaeologists have yet to decipher the text, but initial interpretation indicates it formed part of a letter and contains the roots of the words “judge,” “slave,” and “king,” according to the university. That may indicate it was a legal text, which archaeologists say would provide insights into Hebrew law, society, and beliefs.

The researchers say the text was clearly written by a trained scribe.

The shard was discovered at the Elah Fortress in Khirbet Qeiyafa, about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The fortress, measuring 2.3 hectares (about 5.7 acres), is the earliest-known fortified city of the biblical period in Israel.

Excavations began there in June. So far, just four percent of the site has been excavated, the university said.

Because the ostracon is similar to that found in other Israelite settlements, and because no pig bones were found at the site, archaeologists say the site was likely part of the Kingdom of Judea. Jewish dietary laws forbid the eating of pork.

Among the artifacts found at the site are more than 100 jar handles bearing distinct impressions which may indicate a link to royal vessels, the university said. Such a large quantity found in such a small area is “unprecedented,” the university said.

The site of Khirbet Qeiyafa is located near the place where the Bible describes the battle between David and Goliath — the Elah Valley, which shares its name with the fortress.

Garfinkel said it is the only site in Israel in which to investigate King David.

“The chronology and geography of Khirbet Qeiyafa create a unique meeting point between the mythology, history, historiography and archaeology of King David,” he said.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are the earliest-known copies of the Bible, some dating back about 2,000 years.

It is widely believed that the first set of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in 1947 by a Bedouin shepherd who ventured into a cave in the Judean Desert in search of a lost sheep or goat.

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Tea Rituals

Coffee may be the power beverage that gets us revved up in the morning and fuels us when we’re burning the midnight oil, but tea is the drink we turn to when we want to relax and be refreshed at the same time. Black, green, white, herbal, hot, or ice cold, tea is more than a soothing beverage. It can be a ritual, a cultural experience, and even a spiritual practice.

The reverence for tea has inspired ceremony in many cultures. From the spirituality of Chanoyu, the Japanese way of preparing and serving tea, to the sharing of Maté in Latin America, tea rituals are for celebration, ceremony, and relationship bonding. In China, tea rituals are part of many wedding ceremonies with the bride and groom serving their elder relatives in a show of respect and gratitude. The Chinese art of drinking and serving tea has been a source of inspiration for poetry and song. The Russian custom of chaepitie has inspired a unique style of teapots, caddies, teacups, and cozies. The samovar, a special brewing device, has become the symbol of the Russian tea ceremony and an object of art in its own right. Iced tea, popular in the U.S., as well as other parts of the world, is a modern ritual bringing cool relief on a sweltering summer day.

You can turn your own tea time with a friend into a simple ceremony by preparing your tea with the intention of offering nourishment and good wishes to the other person. When you are seated together, rather than drinking your tea right away, look at one another and express your gratitude and appreciation for your friendship. When you pour the tea, again intend it as an offering. Drink your tea slowly, savoring its flavor and aroma. Let its warmth or its coolness soothe your body. When you are finished drinking your tea, thank your friend for taking part in this nourishing ritual with you. Whether savored in the presence of another or tasted alone, the custom of drinking tea provides a soothing pause in our hectic world. Drinking tea can be a daily ritual that brings inner calm and clarity to the body, mind, and soul.


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