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15006Re: The Ophel Inscription [Response to Rollston]

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  • Douglas Petrovich
    Jul 13, 2013
      Dear List,

      Once in while, you need to criticize your own words more than anyone else’s. It is funny how that works. Here is what I said:

      “As with you, I consider it dubious that this pithos may have been an heirloom. This would be unprecedented, at least from my experience.”

      A colleague in the field, who is a ceramicist by specialty and runs his own dig, enlightened me on pithoi(/large storage jars). According to him,

      “For very large vessels, mainly pithoi, the lifespan was much longer than smaller daily-use vessels. The reason has to do with vessel usage and cost. Typically, a pithos was used as a stationary storage container as opposed to smaller store jars that were used to transport commodities, and domestic vessels that were used on a daily basis. A full pithos would have been much too heavy to be moved about. Ethnographic studies have revealed examples of pithoi that were decades, even more than a century, in age. An archaeological example of this phenomenon is an MB store jar found at Shiloh that was still in use in the Iron I period, a time span of over 400 years! (Finkelstein, Shiloh, p. 159).”

      He also mentioned that at his site, they found many examples of MB storage vessels in use in LB I. Ergo, I stand corrected (with apologies for my error), and it seems that an 11th-century-BC pithos in a 10th-century-BC context is not out of the ordinary. This, of course, would open the door for the appearance of an 11th-century personage on the Ophel inscription. Whether such names as the ones mentioned by various scholars are correct readings or not on the pithos is an entirely different matter.

      Yours,

      Douglas Petrovich
      Toronto

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