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1st Written Evidence of Belief in a Soul in SE Turkey - At Samal / Zincirli

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  • historynow2002
    This is a news item that didn t get timely attention from ABH. This may be a good time to discuss it. It represents what might be called a Missing Link in
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2010
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      This is a news item that didn't get timely attention from ABH. This may be a good time to discuss it. It represents what might be called a "Missing Link" in the evolution of the belief of the soul and in an afterlife in ANE.

      I find it a difficult puzzle piece to examine. We know that Egyptian theology held that the human soul was attached to the dead body. And that by preserving the dead body, the soul's vitality in the afterlife was also preserved.

      In the text below we read that in the region of Samal (aka Yaudi), where the common practice was to cremate bodies, rather than to preserve them, the writer expects that his soul can become attached to a stone suitably inscribed.

      According to some writings, we *might* presume that Hebrew or Jewish theology (and Zoroastrian theology as well) believes the soul is attached to the BONES of the deceased, hence the desire to allow the flesh to decompose away from the bones followed by a careful preservation of the bones, sometimes by means of an ossuary.

      The key to this Samal inscription is that it might indicate a new step in the concept of a soul because it was a region where cultural mixing forced new ideas on the population. If one believes in a soul, but cremation is the norm, then a novel concept of how to preserve the integrity of the soul WITHOUT A BODY has an increased chance of emerging, or an increased chance of becoming more popular.

      Comments encouraged!

      Regards,


      George

      http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/081120/ironage.shtml

      Iron Age stele reveals early evidence of belief in the soul
      By William Harms

      A funerary monument recovered in southeastern Turkey reveals that people who lived in Zincirli, an important Iron Age city, believed the soul was separate from the body. They also believed the soul lived in the slab.

      Virginia Rimmer and Benjamin Thomas, Ph.D. students in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, look at a stele recovered in Zincirli. The inscription on the stone reveals the first evidence that people in the region believed the soul was separate from the body.

      An Oriental Institute team working in southeastern Turkey has discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

      The researchers will describe the discovery to two gatherings of scholars at a Saturday, Nov. 22 conference and a Sunday, Nov. 23 conference in Boston. The content chiseled in stone is considered the testimony of an Iron Age official, whose image is incised on the slab.

      Members of the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced "Zin-jeer-lee"), the site of the ancient city of Sam'al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

      The stele is the first of its kind to be found intact in its original location, enabling scholars to learn about funerary customs and life in the eighth century B.C. At the time, vast empires emerged in the ancient Middle East, and cultures such as the Israelites and Phoenicians became part of a vibrant mix.

      The man featured on the stele was probably cremated, a practice that Jewish and other cultures shun because of a belief in the unity of body and soul. According to the inscription, the soul of the deceased resided in the stele.

      "The stele is in almost pristine condition. It is unique in its combination of pictorial and textual features and thus provides an important addition to our knowledge of ancient language and culture," said David Schloen, Associate Professor in the Oriental Institute and Director of the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli.

      Schloen will present the Kuttamuwa stele to a scholarly audience on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the major annual conference for Middle Eastern archaeologists. Dennis Pardee, Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, will present his translation of the stele's 13-line inscription the following day at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, in a session on "Paleographical Studies in the Near East."

      German archaeologists first excavated the 100-acre site in the 1890s and unearthed massive city walls, gates and palaces. A number of royal inscriptions and other finds are now on display in museums in Istanbul and Berlin. Schloen and his team have excavated Zincirli for two months every year since 2006.

      "Zincirli is a remarkable site," said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. "Because no other cities were built on top of it, we have excellent Iron Age materials right under the surface. It is rare also in having written evidence together with artistic and archaeological evidence from the Iron Age.

      "Having all of that information helps an archaeologist study the ethnicity of the inhabitants, trade and migration, as well as the relationships of the groups who lived there."

      The stele was discovered last summer in a small room that had been converted into a mortuary shrine for the royal official Kuttamuwa, self-described in the inscription as a "servant" of King Panamuwa of the eighth century B.C. It was found in the outer part of the walled city in a domestic area—most likely in Kuttamuwa's house—far from the royal palaces, where inscriptions have previously been found.

      The inscription reads in part: "I, Kuttamuwa, servant of Panamuwa, am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it in an eternal chamber(?) and established a feast at this chamber(?): a bull for [the storm-god] Hadad, ... a ram for [the sun-god] Shamash, ... and a ram for my soul that is in this stele. …"

      It was written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet and in a local West Semitic dialect similar to Aramaic and Hebrew. It is of keen interest to linguists as well as biblical scholars and religious historians because the stele comes from a kingdom that shared with its contemporary ancient Israel a similar language and cultural features.

      The finding sheds a striking new light on Iron Age beliefs about the afterlife. In this case, it was the belief that the enduring identity or "soul" of the deceased inhabited the monument on which his image was carved and on which his final words were recorded.

      The stele was set against a stone wall in the corner of the small room, with its protruding tenon or "tab" still inserted into a slot in a flagstone platform.

      A handsome, bearded figure, Kuttamuwa is depicted on the stele wearing a tasseled cap and fringed cloak and raising a cup of wine in his right hand. He is seated on a chair in front of a table laden with food, symbolizing the pleasant afterlife he expected to enjoy. Beside him is his inscription, elegantly carved in raised relief, enjoining upon his descendants the regular duty of bringing food for his soul. Indeed, in front of the stele were remains of food offerings and fragments of polished stone bowls of the type depicted on Kuttamuwa's table.

      According to Schloen, the stele vividly demonstrates that Iron Age Sam'al, located in the border zone between Anatolia and Syria, inherited both Semitic and Indo-European cultural traditions. Kuttamuwa and his king, Panamuwa, had non-Semitic names, reflecting the migration of Indo-European speakers into the region centuries earlier, under the Hittite Empire in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), which had conquered the region.

      But by the eighth century B.C., they were speaking the local West Semitic dialect and were fully integrated into local culture. Kuttamuwa's inscription shows a fascinating mixture of non-Semitic and Semitic cultural elements, including a belief in the enduring human soul—which did not inhabit the bones of the deceased, as in traditional Semitic thought, but inhabited his stone monument, possibly because the remains of the deceased were cremated. Cremation was considered to be abhorrent in the Old Testament and in traditional West Semitic culture, but there is archaeological evidence for Indo-European-style cremation in neighboring Iron Age sites, although not yet at Zincirli.

      In future excavation campaigns, the Zincirli team, generously supported by University Trustee Joseph Neubauer and wife Jeanette, plans to excavate large areas of the site in order to understand the social and economic organization of the city and its cultural development over the centuries. Schloen and his associate director Amir Fink hope to illuminate Iron Age culture more widely through the richly documented ancient city.
      [END OF TEXT]
    • aris hobeth
      How one dies, leaves the body, how the body is treated may or may not reveal any type of belief in any afterlife. Burning the body may be a sanitary
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 2, 2010
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        How one dies, leaves the body, how the body is treated may or may not reveal any type of belief in any afterlife. Burning the body may be a sanitary precaution. Preserving the body may be a fear of letting go of a beloved one. Or creating holy relics, shrines etc to preserve a memory of a beloved ruler, saint, etc.

        I recall a certain Oprah Winfrey tv show about a plane crash. Some of the passengers lived. Oprah had a survivor appear on her show. He told how he watched as the souls began to leave those who were to die. Some had very bright sould, others more dim. The survivor changed his life to try to become a brighter soul. Oprah and most of her audience accepted the vision, the truth told by the survivor. The bodies became less important. Sincerely, Aris M. Hobeth




        ________________________________
        From: historynow2002 <historynow2002@...>
        To: AncientBibleHistory@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Mon, March 1, 2010 9:04:55 AM
        Subject: ABH 1st Written Evidence of Belief in a Soul in SE Turkey - At Samal / Zincirli

         
        This is a news item that didn't get timely attention from ABH. This may be a good time to discuss it. It represents what might be called a "Missing Link" in the evolution of the belief of the soul and in an afterlife in ANE.

        I find it a difficult puzzle piece to examine. We know that Egyptian theology held that the human soul was attached to the dead body. And that by preserving the dead body, the soul's vitality in the afterlife was also preserved.

        In the text below we read that in the region of Samal (aka Yaudi), where the common practice was to cremate bodies, rather than to preserve them, the writer expects that his soul can become attached to a stone suitably inscribed.

        According to some writings, we *might* presume that Hebrew or Jewish theology (and Zoroastrian theology as well) believes the soul is attached to the BONES of the deceased, hence the desire to allow the flesh to decompose away from the bones followed by a careful preservation of the bones, sometimes by means of an ossuary.

        The key to this Samal inscription is that it might indicate a new step in the concept of a soul because it was a region where cultural mixing forced new ideas on the population. If one believes in a soul, but cremation is the norm, then a novel concept of how to preserve the integrity of the soul WITHOUT A BODY has an increased chance of emerging, or an increased chance of becoming more popular.

        Comments encouraged!

        Regards,

        George

        http://chronicle. uchicago. edu/081120/ ironage.shtml

        Iron Age stele reveals early evidence of belief in the soul
        By William Harms

        A funerary monument recovered in southeastern Turkey reveals that people who lived in Zincirli, an important Iron Age city, believed the soul was separate from the body. They also believed the soul lived in the slab.

        Virginia Rimmer and Benjamin Thomas, Ph.D. students in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, look at a stele recovered in Zincirli. The inscription on the stone reveals the first evidence that people in the region believed the soul was separate from the body.

        An Oriental Institute team working in southeastern Turkey has discovered an Iron Age chiseled stone slab that provides the first written evidence in the region that people believed the soul was separate from the body.

        The researchers will describe the discovery to two gatherings of scholars at a Saturday, Nov. 22 conference and a Sunday, Nov. 23 conference in Boston. The content chiseled in stone is considered the testimony of an Iron Age official, whose image is incised on the slab.

        Members of the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute found the 800-pound basalt stele, 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide, at Zincirli (pronounced "Zin-jeer-lee" ), the site of the ancient city of Sam'al. Once the capital of a prosperous kingdom, it is now one of the most important Iron Age sites under excavation.

        The stele is the first of its kind to be found intact in its original location, enabling scholars to learn about funerary customs and life in the eighth century B.C. At the time, vast empires emerged in the ancient Middle East, and cultures such as the Israelites and Phoenicians became part of a vibrant mix.

        The man featured on the stele was probably cremated, a practice that Jewish and other cultures shun because of a belief in the unity of body and soul. According to the inscription, the soul of the deceased resided in the stele.

        "The stele is in almost pristine condition. It is unique in its combination of pictorial and textual features and thus provides an important addition to our knowledge of ancient language and culture," said David Schloen, Associate Professor in the Oriental Institute and Director of the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli.

        Schloen will present the Kuttamuwa stele to a scholarly audience on Saturday, Nov. 22 at the meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research, the major annual conference for Middle Eastern archaeologists. Dennis Pardee, Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, will present his translation of the stele's 13-line inscription the following day at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, in a session on "Paleographical Studies in the Near East."

        German archaeologists first excavated the 100-acre site in the 1890s and unearthed massive city walls, gates and palaces. A number of royal inscriptions and other finds are now on display in museums in Istanbul and Berlin. Schloen and his team have excavated Zincirli for two months every year since 2006.

        "Zincirli is a remarkable site," said Gil Stein, Director of the Oriental Institute. "Because no other cities were built on top of it, we have excellent Iron Age materials right under the surface. It is rare also in having written evidence together with artistic and archaeological evidence from the Iron Age.

        "Having all of that information helps an archaeologist study the ethnicity of the inhabitants, trade and migration, as well as the relationships of the groups who lived there."

        The stele was discovered last summer in a small room that had been converted into a mortuary shrine for the royal official Kuttamuwa, self-described in the inscription as a "servant" of King Panamuwa of the eighth century B.C. It was found in the outer part of the walled city in a domestic area—most likely in Kuttamuwa's house—far from the royal palaces, where inscriptions have previously been found.

        The inscription reads in part: "I, Kuttamuwa, servant of Panamuwa, am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it in an eternal chamber(?) and established a feast at this chamber(?): a bull for [the storm-god] Hadad, ... a ram for [the sun-god] Shamash, ... and a ram for my soul that is in this stele. …"

        It was written in a script derived from the Phoenician alphabet and in a local West Semitic dialect similar to Aramaic and Hebrew. It is of keen interest to linguists as well as biblical scholars and religious historians because the stele comes from a kingdom that shared with its contemporary ancient Israel a similar language and cultural features.

        The finding sheds a striking new light on Iron Age beliefs about the afterlife. In this case, it was the belief that the enduring identity or "soul" of the deceased inhabited the monument on which his image was carved and on which his final words were recorded.

        The stele was set against a stone wall in the corner of the small room, with its protruding tenon or "tab" still inserted into a slot in a flagstone platform.

        A handsome, bearded figure, Kuttamuwa is depicted on the stele wearing a tasseled cap and fringed cloak and raising a cup of wine in his right hand. He is seated on a chair in front of a table laden with food, symbolizing the pleasant afterlife he expected to enjoy. Beside him is his inscription, elegantly carved in raised relief, enjoining upon his descendants the regular duty of bringing food for his soul. Indeed, in front of the stele were remains of food offerings and fragments of polished stone bowls of the type depicted on Kuttamuwa's table.

        According to Schloen, the stele vividly demonstrates that Iron Age Sam'al, located in the border zone between Anatolia and Syria, inherited both Semitic and Indo-European cultural traditions. Kuttamuwa and his king, Panamuwa, had non-Semitic names, reflecting the migration of Indo-European speakers into the region centuries earlier, under the Hittite Empire in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), which had conquered the region.

        But by the eighth century B.C., they were speaking the local West Semitic dialect and were fully integrated into local culture. Kuttamuwa's inscription shows a fascinating mixture of non-Semitic and Semitic cultural elements, including a belief in the enduring human soul—which did not inhabit the bones of the deceased, as in traditional Semitic thought, but inhabited his stone monument, possibly because the remains of the deceased were cremated. Cremation was considered to be abhorrent in the Old Testament and in traditional West Semitic culture, but there is archaeological evidence for Indo-European- style cremation in neighboring Iron Age sites, although not yet at Zincirli.

        In future excavation campaigns, the Zincirli team, generously supported by University Trustee Joseph Neubauer and wife Jeanette, plans to excavate large areas of the site in order to understand the social and economic organization of the city and its cultural development over the centuries. Schloen and his associate director Amir Fink hope to illuminate Iron Age culture more widely through the richly documented ancient city.
        [END OF TEXT]







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