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A new analysis of 16 inscriptions on ancient pottery shards (called ostraca) previously unearthed at the Judahite military fortress of Tel Arad points to a widespread level of literacy in the Kingdom of Judah by 600 BC. The researchers from Tel Aviv University developed a computer software program to reconstruct and perform handwriting analysis on the ancient Hebrew inscriptions. The high-tech study suggests that the ostraca were written by at least six different authors, ranging in rank from a top military commander down to a subordinate who worked in the fortress warehouse. The authors of the report have concluded that this implies an education system that would have supported the composition of biblical texts before the destruction of the First Temple.

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