New LMLK Data from Pennsylvania (Part 1 of 2)

[This post is from an archive; the original message was sent Wed 6/4/2003 9:43 PM, about a month before I began writing my LMLK vol. 1 book. At that time, I did not yet have permission to publish the photos, but later obtained it. Visit to see the Gibeon handles. The photos described below contain excavation #s that in most cases can be cross-referenced on that web page.]

During May 2003, I visited 3 Pennsylvania museums & reviewed 20th-century excavation material:

*) Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (herein referred to as PTS)

*) University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology (herein referred to as UPenn)

*) Magill Library of Haverford College (herein referred to as MLHC)

At PTS I met Ron Tappy who reminded me of his institution’s policy to not allow photographs of any of their material. At UPenn & MLHC I was allowed to photograph their artifacts but not allowed to use them on my website or upcoming series of books. Although I’m honoring their policies in spirit by not putting the photos on my website or books, some of the material is too important to keep to myself, & I’m compelled to share it with you.

PTS has 10 LMLK handles. Photos of 9 of them (4 from Tell Beit Mirsim & 5 Tell el-Ful) are in old ASOR publications. The 10th one was donated by a gentleman named J.D. Zimmerman, who said he found it on the surface of Tell en-Nasbeh in the 1950s. It’s an excellent specimen of the S2U (Lemaire’s S IIa). Gabriel Barkay was at PTS in February & is aware of it. They paid me a great compliment by saying I exhibited as much excitement over it as Dr. Barkay did! No other S2U was found by the Bade excavations of the 1930s.

I was excited to see the 5 from Tell el-Ful since the published photos were extremely poor. As it turns out, I confirmed that one of them had a G2T impression (Lemaire’s X II). But what was really interesting was an incised concentric circle adjacent to the LMLK impression. It appeared to have only one circle, & over/through the circle were 3 parallel incised lines. Based on conversations with Mike Welch, I’m hereafter referring to these as Drag Marks since they are very similar in execution style to the Plus Marks documented elsewhere (& on my website).

This brings me to the first bunch of photos. Since I have about 1Mb worth of photos & have to use a dial-up modem, I’m going to break this E-mail up into 2 separate messages.

photo-01: Although I was not allowed to photograph the G2T at PTS with Drag Marks, I found this nearly identical specimen at UPenn! Since the LMLK seal is not a G2T, this indicates that the Drag Marks over the circle incisions were not a one-time, out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon. The handle in this photo was excavated from the el-Jib pool depth of 6.50-6.60m (Field # 411). The only significant difference between the 2 handles was that the Drag Marks in this photo seemed to be more haphazard while the one at PTS was done more carefully.

photo-02: Another G2T, this time it has a well-executed Plus Mark. This handle was never published by Pritchard; Andy Vaughn discovered it in the 1990s. I did not have enough time to find its excavation card in the Archives department, so its context is unknown. It was only labeled as “I.918” without a Field number, so it was probably not found in the pool.

photo-03: An unclassifiable 2-winged LMLK seal with a single, carefully executed Drag Mark through it. The general feeling I had from examining it was that it was dragged before firing because it was not perfectly straight, but seemed to be under the influence of moist clay. It was Field # 459 from the 6.60-7.30m depth of the pool.

I’m not attaching photos of them, but there were also two Type 484 handles with related incisions. One had only Circles at the usual place near the top of the handle & then a single drag mark across the middle of the handle (published by Pritchard as Circles-only Field # 107). Another handle had only a Personal Seal near the top; near the middle was a Plus Mark with dual horizontal drags. Unfortunately, the handle was fragmented right there. This one was published by Pritchard (Field # 410). His photo only shows the seal but he described the incisions. Interestingly, it was also excavated from the 6.50-6.60m depth of the pool!

Now for the bulk of interesting handles I saw at UPenn:

photos-04/05/06: Three unrecognized-by-Pritchard examples of the rare Z2T seal (Lemaire’s Z IIc). It is highly probable that photos 05 & 06 (Field #s 481 & 501) are from the same jar since they have identical ware types, identical smoothing & grits, & were found at about the same depth of the pool. Photo 04 (Field # 79) looks similar on the outside, but the jar-side ware is very different (i.e., non-colored) & it was found at a much shallower depth of the pool. By the way, the Pool page of my website lists all the handles now, but I haven’t had time to put statements about the handles on the other pages of the website yet.

photo-07: Pritchard was the first person to publish an H2T seal (Lemaire’s H IIc), but his photo lacks important detail. Since this is the best-known example of an ultra-rare type, here’s a much better photo! Now you can see all of the heth.

photo-08: Speaking of heths, no other photo of an H2D (Lemaire’s H IIb) shows all 3 horizontal bars of the heth. This was an exciting discovery for me!

photo-09: Speaking of detail, here is a photo that finally proves the M4L (Lemaire’s M Ib) had “naturalistic” detail in the central body of the icon like x4C (Lemaire’s Ia & Diringer’s Class I) types. Pritchard mis-categorized this as Class I leading all of us to believe it was like the famous M4C (Lemaire’s M Ia). I got this photo from Pritchard’s archives. I was discouraged on two accounts: 1) the curator told me Pritchard’s field records were poorly kept & that it would take days (if not weeks) to sort through them all, & 2) the curator told me that the el-Jib artifacts kept in Amman were probably lost since another researcher was told such by the Amman curator. But I was able to locate all of Pritchard’s field records (including small black/white photos) of the royal seals within 1 hour of visiting UPenn’s archives! As already stated, the only records I didn’t find were those of non-pool handles not published by Pritchard. By the way, the icon’s head in this photo may also exhibit previously unknown detail, & it also validates/authenticates the handle I own (Redondo Beach ID# 21) since the large, distinct word divider dot in the bottom register had never been published.

photo-10: Speaking of dots, here is the best-known G2T impression that proves there was a word divider dot on that seal in addition to the mark I refer to jokingly as the “chip on the shoulder” of its icon. Now the LMLK seals with known dots includes the G2T, Z4CI, Z4L, M2U, M4L, & S2U.

photo-11: Speaking of dots & 4-winged detail, Pritchard’s photo of Field # 483 always seemed to imply that the Z4CI (Lemaire’s Z Ia) had something resembling feathers/fuzzies in its wings & body. Now after examining it firsthand, you can see in this photo that the feather-illusion was caused by wet-smoothing fingerprints.

photos-12/13/14/15/16: Pritchard’s publication listed two handles with Circles & 4-winged icons; one was described as Class II (Field #491), the other was described as I or II (Field # 354). Photo 13 shows Field # 491, & as far as I know, the only other 4-winged handle with Circles was found in Jerusalem (published in “Jewish Quarter Excavations” by Barkay et al). On both examples, the LMLK stamp & the Circles are clear & distinct. Photos 14-17 are of Field # 354 using alternate shadow angles. While it is obvious that someone attempted to stamp a LMLK seal on the handle while it was leather-hard, I do not see any proof that this was a 4-winged icon as opposed to a 2-winged one. Can any of you see any proof that it belongs to Class I or II as Pritchard categorized it? Since the single visible protrusion is more indicative of the head or tail of a 2-winged icon, & since only two 4-winged icons with Circles are known, I think the ***probability*** is much greater that this was a Class III seal than a I or II. In Pritchard’s notes, he wrote:

Flying Scarab

photos-17/18: If your head hurts after trying to classify that one, here are two more photos of another handle I was not able to classify as x2x or x4x, even though Pritchard published it as Class III. The person who stamped it basically stabbed it into the clay on an angle & didn’t notice that none of the icon & none of the inscription had been impressed.

photo-19: As a footnote to my remark about the known specimens of 4-winged handles with circles, in his dissertation, Andy described Field # 825 (unpublished by Pritchard) as a 4-winged icon with circles. You can clearly see the icon, but I was not able to find any evidence of circles. If they do exist, they are very faint & not in the usual place between the oval & the jar at the top of the handle. The only things I saw on it were craters & illusions created by shadows.

photo-20: Here’s a unique phenomenon–the center of the 2-winged icon was drilled out (Field # 489 from the pool at 7.60-7.80m).

photo-21: Here’s another curious thing I’ve noticed on a few unprovenanced, fragmented handles–a small portion in the center was hollow, typically 1/4″-1/2″ deep & equally wide (Field # 500 from pool at 7.80-8.30m).

End of part one. I’ll send part two along with about 20 more photos sometime this weekend including pithoi, the S2DR/S2DW controversy, tri-circle surprises, & Beth Shemesh handles.

G.M. Grena


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