Written about 2,000 years ago, the manuscripts are the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible ever found, and the oldest written evidence of the roots of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.
Jerry Verlin, author of Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Year Presence in Palestine, responded and asked:
Is 2,000 years ago (as long ago as that is) “the oldest written evidence” to which Jews and Christians can point of Judaism’s and Christianity’s Holy Land roots?
No. Written evidence goes back a millennium earlier, some of it written in stone.
and he proceeds to detail:
Written Evidence in Metal and Stone of Judaism’s Holy Land Roots Antedating the Dead Sea Scrolls
1. Stele of Merneptah: The earliest written evidence extent today of Israelite presence is an Egyptian pharaoh’s c. 1210 BCE stele boasting of claimed victories in Canaan, including: “Israel is laid waste; his seed is not.” Archeologist Dever says this reference tells us that “this Israel was well enough established by that time among the other peoples of Canaan to have been perceived by Egyptian intelligence as a possible challenge to Egyptian hegemony,”
2. Elah Inscription: Archeologists unearthing an Elah Valley Israelite fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa on the Philistine border a couple years ago found a pottery shard which may have the earliest Hebrew writing ever discovered. The single-period site dates to the early 10th, maybe even late 11th century BCE, the time of King David, maybe Saul.
3. The “Gezer Stone,” an agricultural to-do list, and an alphabet stone unearthed at Tel Zayit have Hebrew writing of similar vintage.
4. King David Inscription: Although much has recently changed, for decades “minimalist” archeologists belittled the historicity of King David – “about as real as King Arthur,” one of them quipped – given the absence of 10th century BCE remains in Jerusalem. Then, in 1993 archeologists unearthed at Tel Dan in northern Israel a 9th century BCE Israelite enemy’s stele boasting of victories over the northern kingdom of Israel and “the House of David.” Archeologist Finkelstein (no “maximalist”) wrote in The Bible Unearthed: “This is dramatic evidence of the fame of the Davidic dynasty less than a hundred years after the reign of David’s son Solomon. The fact that Judah (or perhaps its capital, Jerusalem) is referred to with only a mention of its ruling house is clear evidence that the reputation of David was not a literary invention of a much later period.”
5. The Mesha Stele of a 9th century BCE Moabite king boasts of victories over the northern kingdom’s kings Omri and Ahab, and may have a reference to “the House of David” as well. The 9th century BCE “Monolith Inscription” of Assyrian King Shalmaneser III records his claimed victory over an alliance arrayed against him, which included “2,000 chariots, 10,000 foot soldiers of Ahab, the Israelite.”
6-7. King Hezekiah’s Tunnel Inscription and Lachish Relief on Wall of Assyrian Palace: Late 8th century Judah king Hezekiah resisted the Assyrians who had destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. Among his war preparations was the water tunnel with the famous “Siloam Inscription” found in 1880 dramatically depicting the moment when the tunnel diggers from the two ends finally met. A huge (60’ long x 9’ high) relief on a wall of the victorious Assyrian king’s Ninevah palace depicts the Assyrian siege of Lachish so photographically that archeologists can “identify the precise vantage point of the artist who made the sketch for the relief” (Finkelstein).
8. Jerusalem Tomb Amulets: Archeologist Barkai found in a late 7th century Jerusalem tomb a pair of silver amulets inscribed with the Bible’s priestly blessing, “words with which observant Jews still bless their children before the Sabbath meal on Friday nights.” Barkai wrote in the 200th issue anniversary of Biblical Archeology Review that although the biblical source (“P”) to which the priestly blessing is generally ascribed is considered by many to date from post-Babylonian exile times, the amulets’ texts “seem to support those who contend that the Priestly Code was already in existence, at least in rudimentary form, in the First Temple period.”
There is more but thank you, Jerry Verlin.