Re: [ANE-2] Inscriptions on storage jars, detailing contents?
- Hi Brian:
Something that must always be considered in non-monumental epigraphy,
such as ostraca, ossuaries, amphorae, pithoi, is that the writing is often
done by the "quasi-literate" like the guy at the grape or olive press that
filled the vessel with wine or oil...or the guy at the well. More often
than not one can expect poor execution of script and flawed orthography. I
have studied this in ossuaria where family members use a nail to scrawl at
the time the bones were collected. There is often a tendency among
epigraphists to expect good execution, spelling and grammar from a society
that was more than 95% illiterate while many of that 95% were
quasi-literate. Even today there are highly educated who are
spelling-challenged. Your site is awesome.
From: Brian Colless
Sent: Thursday, August 08, 2013 12:15 AM
Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Inscriptions on storage jars, detailing contents?
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:
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 -
> 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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