Archaeologists in Israel, lead by Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University, report finding what is perhaps the oldest Hebrew text on a pottery shard at a site near Jerusalem. The site is an ancient fortress city in the valley were David slew Goliath. The shard and text are 3,000 years old. This would by far be the oldest discovered use of the Hebrew language. There is dispute over whether the language on the shard is "proto-Cannanite" -- used by people other than the Israelis, or Hebrew. One factor that Garfkinkel finds determinative is the presence of a common verb that is typical of Hebrew but not found in any proto-Cannanite writings (of which there is a fair amount).
Carbon dating places the shard in the reign of King David. The "minimalist" approach to Israeli history doubts that such a figure, or people, existed at this time. If the ceramic is Hebrew, it would be weighty evidence against this school of thought. The site is a fortress city indicative of a broader support system. As explained by the AP article:
Garfinkel believes building fortifications like those at Hirbet Qeiyafa could not have been a local initiative: The walls would have required moving 200,000 tons of stone, a task too big for the 500 or so people who lived there. Instead,it would have required an organized kingdom like the one the Bible says David ruled.
Sounds persuasive to me if it holds up. The study of the shard, however, is ongoing and no doubt further information will be forthcoming.
Dependably, Israel Finklestein, a leader of the minimalist school, warned against "a revival in the belief that what's written in the Bible is accurate like a newspaper." He has not been to the dig site but warned "[t]his can be seen as part of this phenomenon." Talk about the fallacy of the excluded middle! It is certainly possible that King David existed but the Bible is not a newspaper account of his actions. Yet his first inclination appears to be skepticism based in a fear that someone might take this find to add weight to the authority of the Bible.
One tangential point to all of this is how long these kinds of stories take to germinate. The announcement by Garfinkel was made today. But I heard Dr. William L. Craig discuss this find on a podcast I listened to several weeks ago. He knew someone connected with the dig who had reported the possible importance of the find. Yet the story just broke today in the main news outlets.