Re: The Ophel Inscription [Response to Rollston]
- 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.
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- Dear Douglas, et al,
On 14/07/13, Douglas Petrovich wrote:
> As for redating the inscription to the 11th c., I would like to suspend judgment. I first would like to hear why exactly it cannot be dated to the 10th c. As one who has invested a great amount of time not only in epigraphy, but also archaeology, I know the dangers of drawing epigraphical conclusions while ignoring archaeological context. As with you, I consider it dubious that this pithos may have been an heirloom. This would be unprecedented, at least from my experience.
I am in the field so without library and references, but I see no problem with a possibly aged pithos where you do. Multiple reasons
1. Ethnographic work in the 70s and 80s showed cooking vessels to be the shortest lives with amphorae (when not intentionally broken), pithoi, and storage jars as the longest lived
2. Rarely does one have an absolute date of manufacture and destruction, but at Pompeii they do. I think it was Ray Laurence in Roman Pompeii: Space and Society who noted century old amphorae being used as pithoi when Vesuvius erupted.
3. Why assume heirloom when
a. Residuality could easily account for it
b. It could have still been in use as originally intended as just noted. The Niloak pottery from the 1930s in my china closet is an heirloom, Hoover dam from the exact same period is not since it is doing its original, intended job.
Just my two cents.
Jeffrey A. Blakely
but currently at Ruhama, Israel