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

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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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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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