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Shearing question (baqaamu, gazaazu, etc.)

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  • Michael F. Lane
    Dear all, I ll pose the same two questions you that I did to a colleague at Johns Hopkins lately. Here they are, more or less as I posed them in them e-mail to
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 30, 2011
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      Dear all,

      I'll pose the same two questions you that I did to a colleague at Johns
      Hopkins lately. Here they are, more or less as I posed them in them e-mail
      to him (thank goodness for copy and paste functions!):

      1. Do you know of any good reason to believe that the PSem. radical *gzz
      ever had an original sense of "to comb," "to pluck (by combing)," or "to
      card"? I noticed, as others my field have, that the OI Assyrian
      Dictionary, under the lemma gazaazu, speculates that it may be reflected
      in a (presumably Akkadian) loan-word *gazzu in Sumerian, glossed as
      "comb." It seems this conjecture is based partly on the assumption that
      effective shears, as opposed to combs, cannot be manufactured from bronze.

      However, Ugaritic gzz "shearers" (with reference to both strippers of
      animals and reapers of wheat, it seems), scriptural Hebrew gaazaz "to
      shear," also with the sense of "mowing" and "destroying" (the enemy, like
      Hom. 'αποκείρω), Aramaic gezaaz (vowelized correctly, I think; id.), and
      Arabic jazza "to clip, shear, shear off" (fem. juzaazah "strip of paper,
      label" suggesting more than just bucolic connotations) indicate to me that
      the etymon is "shearing," "cutting off," or "cutting down."

      2. Do you know of any object thought to be or to represent LBA (in
      particular) shears in the ANE or adjacent regions? There are the famously
      well preserved bronze, single-piece, spring-action shears from Flag Fen in
      Cambridgeshire, but the date and purpose are uncertain, although they
      appear at least to show that the technology is feasible.

      I would be much obliged for your assistance.

      Michael Lane
      University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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