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Re: [ANE-2] Ami Mazar's comments

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  • Peter van der Veen
    Dear Robert and others, I just want to comment briefly on the Shema seal from Megiddo. Granted, the stratigraphy has always been difficult. But David Ussishkin
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 25, 2007
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      Dear Robert and others,

      I just want to comment briefly on the Shema seal from Megiddo. Granted, the stratigraphy has always been difficult. But David Ussishkin has made a good case for assigning it to the Str. VA/IVB (if such a thing indeed existed - cf. the new and excellent contributions on the sites' architecture by Dr.(!) Norma Franklin - congratulations Norma!!) southern Gate Way to complex 1723).

      In terms of the traditional chronology (as per Professor Ami Mazar) indeed one needs to assume (again granting that the stratigraphy is right) that the Jeroboam referred to is indeed Jerobeam I, Solomon's successor in the North from 930 BC onward. But I have several doubts in terms of both the iconography and the palaeography, which seem to both point to tipping the balance in favour of Jeroboam II in the 8th cent. BC. Good iconographic parallels from the 8th century BC from Israel, Syria, etc. can be provided.

      In terms of a low chronology (as suggested by several Tel Aviv chronologists - not just by Professor Israel Finkelstein) the dates of VA/IVB are lowered squarely to the 9th cent. BC in line with Samaria and Jezreel (and for that matter several other sites also). This lower date has now received very welcome architectural support from the excellent work of Norma Franklin in various scholarly publications (all as part of her own PhD work). Though Finkelstein prefers to date the termination of Str VA/IVB to c. 800, in light of the seal itself one may wonder if this stratum did not in fact terminate somewhat later (nearer 750 BC). If (and of course only if) the stratigraphy of the seal is accepted, then surely there is no contradiction here at all between the date of the stratum and of a seal so frequently (and I believe correctly) assigned to Jeroboam II (rather than I).

      Unless - and indeed Robert is right to query this - of course the seal was brought by the workmen to Gottlieb Schumacher as a misleading 'goody'!

      Perhaps ... but then again we do not have any proof for this.

      Best wishes

      Peter van der Veen PhD


      -------- Original-Nachricht --------
      > Datum: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 22:31:02 -0000
      > Von: "Robert Deutsch" <mail@...>
      > An: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      > Betreff: [ANE-2] Ami Mazar\'s comments

      >
      > Dear Uri Hurwitz
      >
      > Prof. Amihai Mazar's suggestions to rely on stratigraphy and consult
      > the available provenanced material is of course a prudent and valid
      > approach.
      >
      > Nevertheless, one has to keep in mind the sad fact that only about
      > 15% out of the available epigraphic material is provenanced while
      > the great majority is not. Can we ignore the majority of the
      > epigraphic evidence only because it was found by looters, amateurs
      > or peasants ?
      >
      > A good parallel are the Amarna Letters of which only a fraction were
      > found in controlled excavations. Is there anyone who will suggest to
      > refer only to the tablets unearthed by professionals ? Without them
      > we are almost blind regarding the 14th century BC Canaan.
      >
      > We have exactly the same picture with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Can
      > anyone imagine the DSS research based only on the few fragments
      > found in controlled excavations ?
      >
      > Regarding the seal of Shema', servant of Jeroboam II (784-748 BC),
      > mentioned by Prof. Mazar, Professor David Ussishkin demonstrated
      > that based on stratigraphy, the seal is earlier and belongs to the
      > time of Jeroboam I (928-907 BC). Yet, his opinion is largely
      > ignored. Prof. Mazar states that "Previous suggestions to attribute
      > the seal of Shema servant of Jeroboam from Megiddo to Jeroboam I
      > have no foundation", and Benjamin Sass called the Megiddo
      > stratigraphy "ambiguous". Why ?, the stratigraphy in this case
      > doesn't work ?
      > (See Avigad and Sass, p. 49, no 2. In fact the opinion expressed
      > there is probably by Sass, as the book was edited by him after the
      > death of Avigad, or the opinion of Joseph Naveh who invited Sass to
      > edit the book and helped him during the work).
      >
      > There is a national, or in fact an international sport today to cast
      > doubts on unprovenanced material, and to discredit authors who
      > publish them. But this is a two-way road, and is a very easy task to
      > cast doubts also on so called provenanced material, from
      > any "controlled" excavation.
      >
      > For example, one can argue that the seal of Shema', the servant of
      > Jeroboam "Found at Megiddo" is also suspicious and probably Fake !
      > The reason is very simple. According to Gotlieb Schumacher, who
      > published in 1908 his excavations at Tell El-Mutesellim
      > (Megiddo), speaks of the habit of rewarding with a "Bakhshish" any
      > worker who found an artifact (in order to prevent stealing). Yet,
      > this custom can be the reason for planting many foreign items by the
      > workers in order to be rewarded. This can also be the reason for the
      > stratigraphic difficulty, which has been raised regarding the exact
      > find spot of this seal. Therefore, we will always have to consider
      > the possibility that the seal is an intrusive "unprovenanced"
      > planted artifact.
      >
      > Robert Deutsch
      >
      >
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