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15150Ophel pithos inscription

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  • Brian Colless
    Aug 26, 2013
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      Further to my message (8/8/2013, see below) about LBA storage jars with one-letter labels on them, I have now remembered one from a cemetery at Tel Aviv which has M T. (Mem Tet) and this uses the meaning of the letters (maym t.ab) to say "good water", I suggest.

      I have added this to my account of the new Jerusalem inscription, which also continues to consider what everybody else has been saying (if I have missed any suggested reading, please tell me):


      Reading this inscription is absolutely impossible, but it is quite possible that my reading is correct.
      (Invoking Socrates, "I know nothing", with absolute certainty)

      "Nice cool clear water"

      Brian Colless
      School of Humanities
      Massey University NZ

      8th of August 2013

      When I offered a reading of the inscription on the Ophel storage jar, as saying M or [M]M "water",
      I had in mind the Bronze Age Gezer jars with M and MM on them.

      Of course, the Jerusalem Pithos might have been a container for wine, and so wine readings are being suggested: [H.]MR (fermenting wine) and [YY]N (wine), though only one Y might be expected, as the Matres lectionis (Y and W) were not being used at this early stage; Ugaritic has simply YN, as also the Beth-Shemesh ostracon:


      The Gezer jars have examples of H. and Y, and other letters, which might be such abbreviated indicators of liquid commodities:
      Y (yn wine) H. (h.mr fermenting wine) T (trsh new wine) Sh (shkr beer or shemen oil) H (hlb milk) S (smk fish)

      My essay on the Ophel jar inscription is continually being updated here:


      Brian Colless
      School of Humanities
      Massey University NZ

      On 11/07/2013, at 9:44 AM, Stewart Felker wrote:

      > I'm aware that inscriptions on storage jars (in the ANE - or at least in
      > Hebrew inscriptions) usually read, simply, "belonging to <name>"...but I'm
      > curious if there are known examples that have a little more than this - for
      > example, perhaps something more future oriented, like "for the harvest" or
      > "[this is] to be used for storing grain."
      > I realize that people were going for brevity...but, obviously, in some
      > cases just the addition of a letter or two could it this different twist.
      > Stewart Felker,
      > University of Memphis

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