Two weeks ago, during an archaeological excavation currently underway in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, headed by Dr. Kate Rafael of the Israel Antiquities Authority
, a ceramic mouthpiece of a pipe was uncovered that bears the Arabic inscription: Heart is language for the lover (literal translation), meaning: love is language for the lovers.
According to Shahar Puni of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Oftentimes in archaeological excavations remains are revealed including monumental inscriptions (institutional), some of which are of religious value, some commemorating a donor, etc. Along with these we sometimes find inscriptions that are of a personal nature: verses of a poem, congratulations and other quotations from which we can learn about daily life and even emotional matters between a man and woman
Clay pipes of this kind were very common in the Ottoman period (16th-19th centuries CE), were mostly used for smoking tobacco, and some were even used to smoke hashish. The Ottoman authorities tried to combat this practice but failed when it became clear that smoking was firmly entrenched in all levels of society. Pipes were also used as a piece of jewelry that could be worn on a garment, and smoking itself was popular amongst both men and women. This pipe was probably given as a gift to a lover.
In drawings of Jerusalem dating to the 19th century, Jerusalemite women are portrayed smoking clay pipes similar to the one uncovered in the current excavation.
Smoking was often done in cafes and in groups of friends. Coffee shops developed around this practice in the city, which are still known today where people can combine the pleasures of both drinking coffee and smoking a hookah and pipe.