Another tidbit leftover from last week: When we were discussing the concept of handle-matching, I reminded everyone that we don’t know how many jars were originally at a site such as Nasbeh since early excavators discarded unmarked handles, & some of the jars had 1, 2, or 3 unstamped ones, & of course, unstamped jars had 4. Dr. Barkay noted that the early diggers not only discarded unmarked handles, but probably also many with weak/faint marks.
Here I would insert parenthetically that there are 2 figures I’m interested in:
1) The total number of jars (marked & unmarked) that can be estimated by the total number of handles
2) The total number of marked jars represented by the known number of marked handles
I can’t do anything about #1. That will probably never be discovered scientifically. We can, however, determine #2.
Continuing now from where I sidetracked last week, I parked the computer screen on the Geography page to show Dr. Barkay the northern sites I know about. The last time we met, he had revealed that there were more sites. I asked him if he were any closer to publishing his article that had been listed in Andy Vaughn’s bibliography back in 1999 as “forthcoming“:
“Judah in Israel: The Northern Distribution of the LMLK Seal Impressions”
Since Drs. Zuckerman & Lundberg were not acquainted with this, Dr. Barkay explained that he had written this article more than 10 years ago, but was still seeking a place to publish it. Dr. Zuckerman quickly said, “May I offer MAARAV?”
MAARAV, established way back in 1978 & published twice yearly, is “A journal for the study of the northwest Semitic languages & literatures“, of which Dr. Zuckerman is the Publisher & Senior Editor, & Dr. Lundberg is the Associate Editor. In Hebrew, the word (actually 4 letters, “MARB”) means “west”. Its content is promoted as being “devoted to the rigorous, prudent treatment of the corpus of Northwest Semitic texts. Its articles have a strong linguistic, philological & literary emphasis, although manuscripts on history, archaeology, religion & culture will be seriously considered, particularly if they have a strong textual interest.”
Well, I’d very much like to see it published anywhere because I believe it will force many scholars to treat the books of Chronicles with a little more historicitical respect. (Yes, you heard me right; historicitical. Now class, repeat after me, “his-tor-i-ci-ti-cal”. And no, I didn’t coin it; there are already THREE other users of it on Google!)
Though I haven’t seen Dr. Barkay’s article, he did reveal the location of another northern site, & it will force me to expand the area shown in my LMLK map, & once again revise the Y-axis grid-numbers. For now, I’m planning to leave it as is until Dr. Barkay actually publishes his article.
One major point that Dr. Barkay emphasized about this article, is his adamant belief that the Chronicler would not have included the verse (2Chronicles 30:10) about some northern tribes refusing to join King Hezekiah if it were not historical; the writer had no motivation to include that content, & had demonstrated elsewhere the ability to selectively omit interesting details (such as the Uriah/Bathsheba scandal).
At some point, we began discussing the Zayit Stone, & I showed them my analysis of the BASOR 344 photos. Though I don’t think it’s been mentioned anywhere else, Dr. Barkay told me that he was the first person to recognize the inscription’s content as abecedaric (yes, it’s a word; 24 uses on Google), & therefore its significant importance. He’s credited at the end of B344 simply as one of several “professional staff” working on the excavation (Area T), & along with Connie Tappy for “many valuable contributions to this manuscript.”
I discovered another revealing tidbit at our meeting. Part of the problem with Dr. McCarter’s statements to me at the San Diego conferences last November regarding the presence of other inscriptions on the stone, was due to the fact that the day after he finished examining the abecedary & left Israel, then Dr. Zuckerman upon performing his photography saw evidence of the other writings. I did not know that. So Dr. McCarter never really had an opportunity to revisit the stone & reexamine them for himself prior to B344’s publication.
Dr. Zuckerman showed me some of the photos again from November of 2005, somewhat historic themselves, being the last time the WSRP team shot an artifact using film instead of strictly electronic media. In particular, I looked at the spot where the other pair of zigzag terminators are, which is on the opposite side of the stone, on the outer lip of the bowl. Just to their right, where you’d expect to find some other letters, there are several craters, which could’ve been caused through natural processes such as weathering or handling during its secondary/tertiary use, or possibly by deliberate vandalism in antiquity.
If you look at Figs. 12 & 13 in B344, which show the top/bowl side of the stone, you can see that it’s a very uneven surface dominated by natural contours (large & small). It’s very easy to imagine that the stone might’ve been used as a doorpost, & in such a context, the other inscription (if it even existed) would’ve been clearly visible to anyone entering or exiting if they wanted to bend down & look at it. This is one of the reasons why Dr. Zuckerman maintains the unpublished position (which he had stated at the 2005 lecture I attended) that the abecedary was probably a practice exercise for the primary inscription(s) on the top/upper side.
I also lamented that nearly 3 years have elapsed since the stone’s discovery, & it’s still hidden from public view/examination. They reminded me that the Israel Museum is being renovated, but I countered that there were many other museums in Israel & abroad that would gladly host a special exhibit of the stone on loan, but they countered that most museum visitors would not be interested in, or impressed by this hard-to-see scratched inscription compared with easily visible monumental inscriptions. They also mentioned that by keeping it in storage, it’s available to the Zayit team for research & 3-D photography (which is still in the planning stages), whereas once it goes on display, the museum would be reluctant to allow researchers to remove it from any specially constructed display.
One other tidbit about the abecedary, when viewing my drawings, I particularly challenged their interpretation of the Pey & Oyin by pointing out how I discerned the similar ticks in the curvy bottom-right sections of the similarly constructed, circular-shaped Vau, Tet, & 2 Oyins (the abecedary’s, & the OZR inscription above it). Dr. Zuckerman found this interesting.
After I got home & began sending previews of the days events to people, it dawned on me that I had been there with 3/4th’s of the original BASOR 334 Ketef-Hinnom-Scrolls publication team (only Andy Vaughn was absent)! That was very cool!
We briefly chatted about these famous inscriptions, though mostly after Dr. Barkay had left for his other meetings. They are very happy/satisfied that no one has presented a serious challenge to the dating of the silver scrolls since BASOR 334 was published in 2004. I learned that Dr. Lundberg worked mainly on KH1 (the larger piece), & Dr. Zuckerman worked mainly on KH2 (the smaller one). And on the way to the meeting, Dr. Barkay had told Dr. Zuckerman that he believes he has additional/alternate readings of the hard-to-read section in the middle of KH1, & they may publish another article about it in the future.
I lamented that there was no photo-CD included with the Zayit article like there was with the KH article, & they told me they had more funding (a special grant) to produce it for the KH one.
Probably the most surprising comment I heard on this candid occasion from Dr. Zuckerman, was that archeologists generally don’t like to find inscriptions. I’ve often heard archeologists lament that they can’t positively identify a site without an obvious inscription stating the name of the site, & I assumed that the finding of an inscription would be a hopeful goal. I also thought about the highly publicized expectation of finding a cuneiform library at Hazor. But his reasoning (based on experience) is that when inscriptions are found, it messes up the archeologist’s plans for the excavation, necessitating alternate procedures, schedule changes, budget adjustments, & worst of all, having to rely on outside help for special photography & interpretation of the inscription.
I spent about half an hour chatting with Drs. Zuckerman & Lundberg after Dr. Barkay left, including their famous work with the Wadi el-Hol inscriptions, then spent about an hour learning more about PTM processes from Dr. Lundberg (which I still haven’t had time to experiment with). Towards the end of our visit, I mentioned to Dr. Zuckerman the inverted Alefs on the Yavneh-Yam ostracon, as drawn by the original publisher of the inscription, Joseph Naveh (which I quickly learned is pronounced “naw-VAY”, not “NAY-vuh”; Israel Exploration Journal vol. 10, 1960; pp. 129-39).
When Kris Udd made his replicas of it, he followed this drawing, which was also published in P. Kyle McCarter, Jr.’s book, “Ancient Inscriptions”. Dr. Zuckerman found it hard to believe, but grabbed a copy of this book from his shelf, & sure enough, there it was (looking like “>” instead of “<“). Dr. William Schniedewind (Professor of Biblical Studies & Northwest Semitic Languages at UCLA) first noticed these inverted Alefs when I showed him one of Kris Udd’s replicas, & he too had not noticed them previously.
They showed me some hi-res color photos of the actual artifact, & each of the areas where the Alef was backwards, turned out to be a fuzzy, illegible region. So it’s interesting that when given the option of drawing it normally, or omitting it, Naveh drew it backwards, almost like some sort of secret mnemonic or cue for indicating uncertainty.
We also spent some time discussing collaborative efforts involving WSRP, my LMLK research, Inscriptifact, & other institutions. I’m not going to get into details here, since I just began using Inscriptifact today, & still need to spend more time learning PTM, but there is plenty to do, & the future is bright!
Well, it was an incredible day! Dr. Zuckerman had the most poignant remark of the day as I was leaving around 3:50 in the afternoon, “It really says something when it takes a visit from someone living on the other side of the world to bring together people who only live a few miles apart!”
P.S. I recently noticed that WordPress keeps track of my 3 most visited entries, & I’ll begin attaching them to the bottom of each message for the record.
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