Ancient Letters (1): Lachish

The three stamps in this series depict examples of ancient letters which were discovered in archeological excavations and that shed light on important chapters in the history of The Land Of Israel. Each one of the letters presents significant historical evidence regarding a tumultuous time in the history of Eretz Israel and demonstrates the different writing methods and letter formats utilized in various periods. Rulers employed special messengers to deliver letters to their recipients.


Ancient Letter (1): The Letter from Ugarit, 1230 BCE (Canaanite Period):
This letter is written in Akkadian, in cuneiform script, and imprinted on a clay slab. It was discovered in the archeological excavations at Tel Afek, inside a house that served as the residence of the Egyptian governor in Canaan during the 13th century BCE. The letter was sent by the governor of Ugarit, a city in northern Syria, to the Egyptian governor in Afek, who ruled over Canaan on behalf of the King of Egypt. In his letter, the governor of Ugarit complained that wheat he had given to a representative of the governor of Canaan was not returned to him as promised.

The walls surrounding the Ottoman fortress in which the Egyptian governor’s house was discovered appear beside the letter on the stamp. The word “wheat” is written in cuneiform script on the tab.


Ancient Letter (2):Lachish Letters, 589 BCE (First Temple Period):
This letter is written in Hebrew, in ancient Hebrew script, and inked onto an ostracon (a pottery shard). It was discovered in the archeological excavations at the Tel Lachish gate fortifications. It is one of a group of similar letters sent by Hoshiyahu, commander of one of the small fortresses in Judea, to his commanding officer Yaush, commander of the Lachish fortress.

The letter appearing on the stamp is referred to by researchers as “Letter Number 4”. In this letter, Hoshiyahu reported that he had executed his orders as received and notified that he and his men were watching for signals from Lachish.

Tel Lachish and the reconstructed ancient city gate appear next to the letter on the stamp. The word “Lachish” is written in ancient Hebrew script on the tab.


Ancient Letter (3): Bar Kochva Letters, 134 CE (Bar Kochva Uprising):
This letter is written in Hebrew, in Hebrew script, and inked onto papyrus. It was discovered in archeological excavations in the Murbaat River caves in the Judean Desert. The letter was sent by Shimon Bar Koziba, who was to become known as Bar Kochva, to Jeshua Ben Gelula, one of his subordinates, advising military orders and threatening punishment if disobeyed.

The Judean Desert landscape is depicted alongside the letter on the stamp. The word “Koziba” is written in Hebrew script on the tab.


The stamps were issued in 2008. Designer: Meir Eshel.