Stager, Samrah, & the Light of Milik

(Originally posted on LMLK Blogspot 5-6-2006.)

Earlier this week (May 2nd), The New York Times picked up on the petition authored by Harvard professor, Lawrence E. Stager. Along with several other scholars, they also interviewed Gustavus Adolphus professor, Andrew G. Vaughn, who began chairing ASOR’s Committee On Publications in January. Here’s a direct link to the story, Must Looted Relics Be Ignored?

Here’s a page set up by BAR magazine with links to the statement & list of signers:
www.bib-arch.org/bswbOOunprovenanced.html

Stager & Vaughn have each made significant contributions to LMLK research, Vaughn’s dissertation being a catalyst for my own studies.

Stager excavated Khirbet es-Samrah, which became the subject of his January 1975 dissertation, “Ancient Agriculture in the Judaean Desert”. It includes a photo (Fig. 29) of an H2D with Circles found in Room 9, Floor 004 “in gray, chalky soil, some 0.10 m. thick” labeled Stratum 2, what I think of as the Assyrian-Babylonian sandwich. This particular handle is one of 10 elite specimens important to the chronological division proposed in my book.

Earlier excavators had found an unstratified x2x handle, published in BASOR 142 (April 1956; “Explorations in the Judaean Buqe’ah”) by Frank M. Cross, Jr. & J.T. Milik. Although they identified it as an M2x based on some lines they thought were Mem strokes, the icon Head matches neither the M2D nor M2U, & the lines are similar to other illusory marks elsewhere on the handle. In light of Stager’s handle, it’s extremely likely that the Cross/Milik handle is also an H2D. I sure would love to get better photos of both so their ware could be compared!

Józef Tadeusz Milik recently passed away, & a terse obituary with photo appeared on p. 18 of the May/Jun issue of BAR. He was born in Poland in 1922, ordained as a Catholic priest in 1946, gained a licentiate summa cum laude in 1950, & was heralded by Time magazine in 1956 as “the fastest man with a fragment” for his contribution to Dead Sea Scrolls research. It was he who devised the system of designating the fragments; knowledge & technique being what they were back then, he also smoked as he worked, & joined some fragments using commercial adhesive tape. Described as having an “infectious sense of humor”, Frank Cross told the UK’s Independent newspaper that Milik often broke out in giggles over something he found amusing:

Fluent in Polish, Russian, Italian, French, German, & English, Milik entered the Catholic University of Lublin in 1944 to study Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Syriac, & Old Church Slavonic. As Poland fell victim to restrictive Communist policies, Milik went to Rome to study at the Pontifical Oriental Institute & Pontifical Biblical Institute. There he added Arabic, Georgian, Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, & Hittite to his repertoire of linguistic expertise.

Subsequent to his hands-on work with the DSS in Jerusalem, he left the priesthood, married a Polish woman in Rome, & moved to Paris. There he published several DSS texts (notably The Books of Enoch in 1976), & worked as a researcher for the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique until his retirement in 1987.

Song of the week: “Prism of Life” by Enigma (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 26-second sample; 314kb):

We have a helping hand Who’s always aside
Forever light
Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth

G.M. Grena

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