Modern Ancient Art Mystery

Here are photos of 2 modern works-of-art that caught my attention last month:


They bear the same ancient inscription, & I initially thought that a modern artist would choose one of the best-known Paleo-Hebrew texts to replicate, but this one puzzled me; I was disappointed in myself for not recognizing the artifact without doing a bit of research.

I thought it would be fun to give all 3 of my regular readers the opportunity to see if they could identify it easier/quicker than I could.

In the 1st photo showing the right half of the text, I cropped off the left half because it shows a map identifying the site it came from.

I rotated the 2nd photo showing front/back images of the object because the artist obviously isn’t familiar with the script. The photographer did a decent job of getting most of the letters as they wrap around in the images; but I can’t vouch for whether the object actually contains the entire inscription. I suspect that some of it is truncated.

I’ll kick off this prize-less contest by giving 2 somewhat obvious hints:

1) The object is LMLK-related in some way.

2) It contains 2 instances of “MLK” (only 1 is visible in the photos, & it’s not obvious).

For the savvy Biblical archeology sleuth, those should be sufficient since there ain’t that many published texts. There are a couple of obvious keywords that will give it away if you have a corpus of ANE inscriptions.

Assuming that none of my 3 readers are that savvy, I will post additional hints in comments but only after 2 readers post guesses. And most importantly, in an effort to discourage arbitrary, rapid-fire, multiple guesses from any one person (named pithom), I will not approve a 2nd guess by anyone until at least one other person guesses, so make your first guess a really “good” one! I know you’re able.

G.M. Grena


6 Responses to “Modern Ancient Art Mystery”

  1. pithom Says:

    It’s this Arad ostracon!,_900_BCE-early_6th_century_BCE

  2. pithom Says:

    Also, how is the object “LMLK-related”? How is the instance of “MLK” in the second/third photo (right side) “not obvious”?

    • G.M. Grena Says:

      Arad is an important LMLK site; that’s how it’s related, & that clue would also rule out the Samaria & Yavneh Yam ostraca. MLKYEU is not obvious because its Lamed was written with a broken, shorter-looking stroke than the other Lameds.

  3. G.M. Grena Says:

    For the record, I want to include some links for additional info. The artist is Rachel Cadmor. You can write to her directly to purchase her Eretz-Israel ceramic art. A full image of the plate with the map I cropped is available in her Judaica Gallery. The upside-down goblet is not on her website; I originally saw it listed on eBay, & it is no longer available for viewing (not even in the Completed Listings section). It had been listed for about $10, but did not sell.

    In addition to the helpful links Pithom provided, here’s one to the Jewish Virtual Library, which is the first one I found with an English translation of ostracon #24. And a color photo by Zev Radovan with alternately located watermarks are at and

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