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Re: [ANE-2] Tel Zayit in the news

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  • Yitzhak Sapir
    ... Well, this assessment means that we know what he meant to be doing or should have been doing. Do we? Regarding the comments by Kevin and especially
    Message 1 of 16 , Oct 31, 2007
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      On 10/31/07, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
      > The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something
      > written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!

      Well, this assessment means that we know what he meant to be
      doing or should have been doing. Do we?

      Regarding the comments by Kevin and especially Victor, I wish I
      learned enough to be as ignorant of these matters as Victor. In any
      case, I do not think the inscription proves the Davidic/Solomonic
      empire. However, I do think it (together with other inscriptions from
      the 10th - early 9th century BCE) show that in this period, before
      the rise of regional states like Omri and Moab, there were likely
      petty states whose king employed a scribe. That we today can
      learn to write and teach others does not mean that literacy was so
      accessible. The scribes had an important social function and
      would not have taught it to just about anyone who wanted. What
      to us may seem like a scribe who barely manages to scratch the
      alphabet may have been a scribe who had little experience
      working with engraving on stone, as opposed to writing on
      papyrus. A different order of the letters probably indicates a
      separate scribal tradition than the ones we know about (and
      therefore, in my opinion, definitely not part of a united empire).
      I think it is most reasonable to suppose that scribal institutions
      (along with the basic petty state borders and other institutions)
      survived through Iron I than not. They may have less visibility
      in the archaeological record, and the people might have found
      themselves in frameworks much more nomadic and less urban
      than during the LBA, but there is no reason to believe that the
      institutions did not survive. Institutions, even today, are very
      resilient (how often does a beauracracy disband of its own will?)
      A more pertinent example is Middle Assyria. Kuhrt notes (The
      ANE, p. 349) that Old Assyrian institutions such as the limmu-
      ship were retained through the 'dark period' into the Middle
      Assyrian period. Rather, I think the belief that after the LBA
      there were no political institutions into which the peoples of the
      early Iron Age aligned themselves is somewhat far-fetched. It
      is probably partly based on the biblical description of the
      Judges, when there was "no king." Thus, it was common to
      see the settlers in the highlands as representing the Israelites,
      who had begun settlement, and even if that is now considered
      maybe only half-historical or unrelated at all to the later
      kingdoms of Judea and Samaria, the idea that these people
      were tribes who settled and had no political framework is still
      maintained. For example, twin settlements are analyzed in this
      period as to their ability to exist by dependence on one
      another. As I said, to me it seems more likely that political
      and basic beaurocratic institutions survived, including an
      office of a scribe. This scribe probably kept accounts of
      inventory more than anything else and literature is highly
      unlikely to have existed in this period in written form. But
      annals may have existed, and these annals could provide
      the data for later writers. This is now getting into the "may
      have" and "could have," which means that other evidence
      is needed. That is, if we want to argue that the Davidic/
      Solomonic history is based on any contemporary records
      we need to show several things:
      1) there existed a scribal office at this time
      a) a scribal office may have survived from an earlier
      political framework
      b) there is physical evidence for the existence of a
      scribal office at this time
      2) this scribal office very reasonably wrote annals

      Naaman's discussion of the issues here reconstructs
      annals only for the 9th century. The inscriptions, even
      as they are meagre, form the basis for 1(b). But there
      is still a need to show 1(a), using a reasonably good
      example for survival of political institutions, and also
      2, using a good example of annals that date this early.

      Yitzhak Sapir
    • Brian Roberts
      That individual could be a student or? R. Brian Roberts Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology Peter T. Daniels wrote: The Tell
      Message 2 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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        That individual could be a student or?

        R. Brian Roberts
        Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

        "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@...> wrote:
        The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!
        --
        Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

        ----- Original Message ----
        From: Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir@...>
        To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 12:34:43 PM
        Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Tel Zayit in the news

        On 10/29/07, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
        > From the article:
        >
        > "One reason for the buzz was that the stone suggests the earliest Hebrew
        > Scriptures could have been written down in that era -- hundreds of years
        > earlier than many scholars had believed.
        >
        > Are the "many scholars" unaware that literary texts were being recorded
        > centuries earlier than the Tell Zayit abecedary?

        I think part of the issue is that (as I understand it), the main
        catalyst for the
        current debate over the historicity of the Solomonic Empire, was a book by
        Jamieson-Drake, "Scribes and Schools in Monarchic Judah: A Socio-
        Archaeological Approach." There, he argued that scribal schools could
        not have existed prior to the 8th century BCE in Judah, because Judah
        lacked the resources normally associated with states that have scribal
        schools. Prior to his work, the Solomonic period was relatively a consensus
        among scholars. His work may not have (at least in retrospect) destroyed
        that consensus, but it definitely made it an issue of discussion. The
        abecedary is one more evidence of scribal schools that one can place on
        the balance. That's what it means "could have been written down in that
        era -- hundreds of years earlier than many scholars had believed." It's
        not that literature was not written beforehand, or letters sent from Jerusalem
        to Egypt, but many scholars believed that in Iron Age I and IIA there were no
        scribal schools. It is somewhat naive (of course) to think that now that there
        is more and more evidence for scribal schools in this period, we can
        immediately assume the historicity of the Davidic/Solomonic state.

        This topic is also being discussed at the biblical-studies list, but you need
        to be a member to view the posts.




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      • Brian Roberts
        Kevin, So what are our options for interpretation? They re certainly severely limited. R. Brian Roberts Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology Kevin P.
        Message 3 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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          Kevin,

          So what are our options for interpretation? They're certainly severely limited.

          R. Brian Roberts
          Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

          "Kevin P. Edgecomb" <kevin@...> wrote:
          Peter T. Daniels wrote:
          > The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!

          To which I add:
          Nor are large rocks typically associated with scribal schools as student practice surfaces.

          The most anyone can deduce from the Tel Zayit abecedary is that the one who scrawled it knew the alphabet somewhat imperfectly, from whatever source, and that it is imperfect evidence for the existence of that particular alphabet. It's so shoddily scratched, however, that it seems relatively useless as a datum for paleography, and also places a question mark over even the order of letters in the inscription.

          The implication appears to be that an alphabet could only be learned in a scribal school, but this needs to be argued, not simply asserted.

          Regards,
          Kevin P. Edgecomb
          Berkeley, California




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        • Brian Roberts
          Yitzhak; Brilliantly-framed points. I literally could not have said it better myself. Best, R. Brian Roberts Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology Yitzhak
          Message 4 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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            Yitzhak;

            Brilliantly-framed points. I literally could not have said it better myself.

            Best,

            R. Brian Roberts
            Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

            Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir@...> wrote:
            On 10/31/07, Peter T. Daniels wrote:
            > The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something
            > written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!

            Well, this assessment means that we know what he meant to be
            doing or should have been doing. Do we?

            Regarding the comments by Kevin and especially Victor, I wish I
            learned enough to be as ignorant of these matters as Victor. In any
            case, I do not think the inscription proves the Davidic/Solomonic
            empire. However, I do think it (together with other inscriptions from
            the 10th - early 9th century BCE) show that in this period, before
            the rise of regional states like Omri and Moab, there were likely
            petty states whose king employed a scribe. That we today can
            learn to write and teach others does not mean that literacy was so
            accessible. The scribes had an important social function and
            would not have taught it to just about anyone who wanted. What
            to us may seem like a scribe who barely manages to scratch the
            alphabet may have been a scribe who had little experience
            working with engraving on stone, as opposed to writing on
            papyrus. A different order of the letters probably indicates a
            separate scribal tradition than the ones we know about (and
            therefore, in my opinion, definitely not part of a united empire).
            I think it is most reasonable to suppose that scribal institutions
            (along with the basic petty state borders and other institutions)
            survived through Iron I than not. They may have less visibility
            in the archaeological record, and the people might have found
            themselves in frameworks much more nomadic and less urban
            than during the LBA, but there is no reason to believe that the
            institutions did not survive. Institutions, even today, are very
            resilient (how often does a beauracracy disband of its own will?)
            A more pertinent example is Middle Assyria. Kuhrt notes (The
            ANE, p. 349) that Old Assyrian institutions such as the limmu-
            ship were retained through the 'dark period' into the Middle
            Assyrian period. Rather, I think the belief that after the LBA
            there were no political institutions into which the peoples of the
            early Iron Age aligned themselves is somewhat far-fetched. It
            is probably partly based on the biblical description of the
            Judges, when there was "no king." Thus, it was common to
            see the settlers in the highlands as representing the Israelites,
            who had begun settlement, and even if that is now considered
            maybe only half-historical or unrelated at all to the later
            kingdoms of Judea and Samaria, the idea that these people
            were tribes who settled and had no political framework is still
            maintained. For example, twin settlements are analyzed in this
            period as to their ability to exist by dependence on one
            another. As I said, to me it seems more likely that political
            and basic beaurocratic institutions survived, including an
            office of a scribe. This scribe probably kept accounts of
            inventory more than anything else and literature is highly
            unlikely to have existed in this period in written form. But
            annals may have existed, and these annals could provide
            the data for later writers. This is now getting into the "may
            have" and "could have," which means that other evidence
            is needed. That is, if we want to argue that the Davidic/
            Solomonic history is based on any contemporary records
            we need to show several things:
            1) there existed a scribal office at this time
            a) a scribal office may have survived from an earlier
            political framework
            b) there is physical evidence for the existence of a
            scribal office at this time
            2) this scribal office very reasonably wrote annals

            Naaman's discussion of the issues here reconstructs
            annals only for the 9th century. The inscriptions, even
            as they are meagre, form the basis for 1(b). But there
            is still a need to show 1(a), using a reasonably good
            example for survival of political institutions, and also
            2, using a good example of annals that date this early.

            Yitzhak Sapir




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          • Peter T. Daniels
            Exactly. Not someone who knew what he was doing yet. -- Peter T. Daniels grammatim@verizon.net ... From: Brian Roberts To:
            Message 5 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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              Exactly. Not someone who knew what he was doing yet.
              --
              Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...

              ----- Original Message ----
              From: Brian Roberts <r.brianroberts@...>
              To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Thursday, November 1, 2007 1:10:27 PM
              Subject: Re: [ANE-2] Tel Zayit in the news

              That individual could be a student or?

              R. Brian Roberts
              Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

              "Peter T. Daniels" <grammatim@verizon. net> wrote:
              The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!
            • Niels Peter Lemche
              Before starting anything, it would be wise to define what you mean by the word scribal schools. One ABC and many schools? May I refer you to Karel Van der
              Message 6 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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                Before starting anything, it would be wise to define what you mean by the word "scribal schools." One ABC and many schools?

                May I refer you to Karel Van der Toorn's Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. He is historically speaking rather conservative but has a lot of relevant stuff about the scribal culture of the ANE, of course with a special emphasis on conditions in Palestine. He knows his Mesopotamian stuff. It was published by Harvard University Press a couple of months ago.

                Better than just continuing with modern stereotypes.

                Niels Peter Lemche

                -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
                Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af Brian Roberts
                Sendt: 1. november 2007 18:12
                Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
                Emne: Re: [ANE-2] Tel Zayit in the news

                Kevin,

                So what are our options for interpretation? They're certainly severely limited.

                R. Brian Roberts
                Amateur Researcher in Biblical Archaeology

                "Kevin P. Edgecomb" <kevin@...> wrote:
                Peter T. Daniels wrote:
                > The Tell Zayit abecedary certainly doesn't look like something written by someone who had a fine grasp on what he was doing!

                To which I add:
                Nor are large rocks typically associated with scribal schools as student practice surfaces.

                The most anyone can deduce from the Tel Zayit abecedary is that the one who scrawled it knew the alphabet somewhat imperfectly, from whatever source, and that it is imperfect evidence for the existence of that particular alphabet. It's so shoddily scratched, however, that it seems relatively useless as a datum for paleography, and also places a question mark over even the order of letters in the inscription.

                The implication appears to be that an alphabet could only be learned in a scribal school, but this needs to be argued, not simply asserted.

                Regards,
                Kevin P. Edgecomb
                Berkeley, California
              • Kevin P. Edgecomb
                Hi Brian, In the end it s an alphabet. What s there to interpret? What information we could learn would be related to paleography and the order of the
                Message 7 of 16 , Nov 1, 2007
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                  Hi Brian,

                  In the end it's an alphabet. What's there to interpret?

                  What information we could learn would be related to paleography and the order of the letters. And yet, we can't be certain whether the peculiarity of forms is due to incompetence or the rough surface: it is not a clean sample either way. (I'd go with incompetence either way, myself, as it is certainly possible to format letters properly even on a rough surface.) Likewise the order of letters may be due either to incompetence or an actual different tradition. The options are equivocal. It's safe to say, it seems, that alphabetic writing existed, with the assumption that others were doing it better than whoever scratched this alphabet on a rock. Extending this finding to the existence of scribal schools is unnecessary and not even really indicated, as Yitzhak pointed out, and using it to prove something about the history of a later period is simply anachronistic. I don't think there's much to learn from this Tel Zayit abecedary, if one is being properly cautious and focused on the inscription itself. Sure, it's a neat find, and very interesting to the general history of the alphabet, but it's not really very helpful in and of itself in regard to details. As you say, our options for interpretation are "certainly severely limited."

                  And thank you, Niels Peter, for the infromation that Karel Van der Toorn's book is out now. I'd been waiting for that.

                  Regards,
                  Kevin P. Edgecomb
                  Berkeley, California
                • funhistory
                  ... The abecedary inscription on the stone is an alphabet, but there is plenty of evidence for other inscriptions having been on it as well-- several fragments
                  Message 8 of 16 , Nov 2, 2007
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                    > In the end it's an alphabet. What's there to interpret?
                    > Kevin P. Edgecomb

                    The abecedary inscription on the stone is an alphabet, but there is
                    plenty of evidence for other inscriptions having been on it as well--
                    several fragments are clearly visible, but only 1 was presented in
                    BASOR 344. Those are open to interpretation. Also the 2 zigzags are
                    open to interpretation. Also the placement of the stone in the wall is
                    open to interpretation. Where it might have been before being placed
                    in the wall is open to interpretation. Also the placement of the
                    abecedary opposite the concave side (rather than in it) is open to
                    interpretation.

                    I have an extensive review of BASOR 344 in preparation with my own
                    drawing; I'll let you know when it's online (I'll be donating the
                    drawing to the evil "W").

                    George Michael Grena, II
                    Redondo Beach, CA
                  • funhistory
                    For those interested in ANE paleography, no matter what your geography... And for those who can t get enough, of that fun Zayit-Stone stuff:
                    Message 9 of 16 , Nov 11, 2007
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                      For those interested in ANE paleography,
                      no matter what your geography...

                      And for those who can't get enough,
                      of that fun Zayit-Stone stuff:

                      http://www.lmlk.com/zayit/

                      G.M. Grena
                      120 miles northwest of San Diego, CA
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