Proto-Canaanite Hebrew Ostracon from Khirbet Qeiyafah
>So, I have waited patiently and the secret is now revealed (well,
< 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
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 @:
Massey University, New Zealand.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- 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.
San Antonio, TX
----- Original Message -----
From: "Niels Peter Lemche" <npl@...>
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: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:ANEemail@example.com] På vegne af
> Ariel L. Szczupak
> Sendt: den 4 november 2008 15:37
> Til: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org
> 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.