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Proto-Canaanite Hebrew Ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafah

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  • Brian Colless
    Message 1 of 31 , Oct 30, 2008

      So, I have waited patiently and the secret is now revealed (well,
      partly unveiled).

      < Five lines on pottery uncovered here appear to be *the oldest Hebrew
      text* ever found and are likely to have a major impact on knowledge
      about the history of literacy and alphabet development.>

      < A specialist in ancient Semitic languages at Hebrew University,
      Haggai Misgav, says the writing, on pottery using charcoal and animal
      fat for ink, is in so-called *proto-Canaanite script* and appears to
      be a letter or document in Hebrew, suggesting that literacy may have
      been more
      widespread than is generally assumed.>

      No photograph of the ostracon accompanies the NYT report.

      It is already Friday 1 November here. Are the custodians of the
      document prepared to let it be seen yet? I hope it is legible!

      The term *proto-Canaanite script* surprises me. Likewise the claim
      that this is *the oldest Hebrew text* ever found. (Presumably
      'Hebrew' means the language of the first Israelites, 'the lip of

      Is the script the same as on the alphabetic ostracon from Izbet Sartah
      That has 5 lines of Proto-Canaanite writing, comprising a four-line
      message and a fifth line listing the letters of the alphabet. As I
      understand it, the writer describes the way writing works (the eye
      gives the breath/spirit of the sign into the ear) and rejoices in the
      fact that his message (hidden underground like a 'time-capsule') will
      be seen "for a thousand lifetimes of the world" (l '(lp) h.ld `lm).

      I would put in a claim for this to be the oldest Hebrew text: its
      writer's name seems to be (by coincidence!) Ben Haggai, and all the
      words I detect there are in the Classical Hebrew lexicon.

      The definite article (ha-) is not used, where it would be expected,
      so perhaps the term Hebrew is not appropriate; it is Proto-Hebrew
      language and script (and maybe the term Proto-Canaanite belongs only
      in the Bronze Age).

      Does the new ostracon have instances of the definite article, as on
      the 9th-C Moabite stone of King Mesha` of Moab, and the Siloam
      inscription (c. 701 BCE)?

      My studies on the Izbet Sartah ostracon are @:



      Brian Colless

      Massey University, New Zealand.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Jack Kilmon
      Pardon my snipping this long archive but I don t want Jim beating my head softer than it is. Like all of you, I am fascinated by this ostracon and never pass
      Message 31 of 31 , Nov 4, 2008
        Pardon my snipping this long archive but I don't want Jim beating my head
        softer than it is. Like all of you, I am fascinated by this ostracon and
        never pass up a chance to comment on ancient Semitic epigraphy. I am
        familiar with many of the inscriptions before and after this one but my
        problem is I just have not seen this one. I have seen the journalistic
        shots that show some faint scripts. Perhaps someone has a good
        representation of this shard? If not, I will go against all of my
        propensities and keep my mouth...er...my fingers still.



        Jack Kilmon
        San Antonio, TX

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Niels Peter Lemche" <npl@...>
        To: <ANE-2@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 9:57 AM
        Subject: [ANE-2] Proto-Canaanite Hebrew Ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafah

        >I think I remembered an article about these texts in Vetus Testamentum. It
        >must be in the 1960s. Yes, there was a similarity to linear A (or so I
        >believe) but far too little text to give any clue. The article also
        >included photos. Maybe somebody here have more precise information.
        > Niels Peter Lemche
        > -----Oprindelig meddelelse-----
        > Fra: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] På vegne af
        > Ariel L. Szczupak
        > Sendt: den 4 november 2008 15:37
        > Til: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
        > Emne: Re: SV: SV: SV: SV: SV: [ANE-2] Proto-Canaanite Hebrew Ostracon from
        > Khirbet Qeiyafah
        > At 06:45 PM 11/3/2008, Ariel L. Szczupak wrote:
        >>At 10:43 AM 11/3/2008, Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
        >>>You don't tell me anything I don't know, but is this text in
        >>>proto-Canaanite (and why?) or in early Hebrew characters.
        >>It's in proto-LS (proto-Canaanite/Sinaitic). Not because I think I
        >>IDed the signs in the web photos as such, but because Garfinkel said
        >>so explicitly (in the TV interview).
        > I completely forgot about the "other" proto-Canaanite script. There
        > are two scripts that are called "proto-Canaanite". The first is the
        > same as the proto-Sinaitic, the one Garfinkel was talking about, and
        > which seems to be related to Hieroglyphic Egyptian. The second is
        > called the "Aegean proto-Canaanite" because the signs, while not
        > being the same, resemble the signs of Linear A. Also 2nd mbc. I draw
        > a complete blank when I try to recall an inscription example :(, but
        > I recall there's an example in Naveh's book. And I seem to recall
        > someone arguing recently that this script was actually related to
        > Hieratic Egyptian.
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