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Gedaliah bulla drawings

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  • Kevin P. Edgecomb
    George Grena has outdone himself (a habit of his) in producing some fine drawings of the newly discovered bulla of Gedaliah ben (P?/M?/N?)ashhur. George has
    Message 1 of 101 , Jul 31, 2008
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      George Grena has outdone himself (a habit of his) in producing some
      fine drawings of the newly discovered bulla of Gedaliah ben
      (P?/M?/N?)ashhur. George has also produced drawings of the bulla
      showing the unclear character as each of its possible characters.

      I've uploaded the files in the Gedaliah Bulla folder under our Files

      George will be writing on the matter soon.

      Thank you very much for your hard work, George! It's always appreciated.

      Kevin P. Edgecomb
      Berkeley, California
    • Rochelle Altman
      Hi, George, ... RISA: Hey; I publicly admitted my error on the half-o space and corrected it. GMG: I had never heard of an o-space prior to this discussion.
      Message 101 of 101 , Aug 13, 2008
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        Hi, George,

        --- On Wed, 8/13/08, funhistory <yahoo_biblical-studies@...> wrote:

        > letters, such as those that appear on Arad 50 in the name MR  (half o-space) MW (full o-space) T-- where the tail of the first > mem almost touches the tail of the resh and the head of the second mem almost touches the head of the waw -- with a most definite space between the resh-waw and the taf.

        > Rochelle
        Hey; I publicly admitted my error on the half-o space and corrected it.


        I had never heard of an "o-space" prior to this discussion. Is this some sort of generic name for any space, or is it based on the actual space that would be taken up by an actual ayin/oyin?

        It is based on the actual space that would be taken up by an o or an ayin. It's  omicron in Greek.

        Did you coin this term, or has it been used extensively by other paleographers?

        RISA:Nope, o-space is not mine; it's a calligraphy term and is also used in script design. No, it is not used by paleographers -- at least, none that I am aware of. I sometimes have to use terms from other fields to explain what's going on in a text.


        Even though I've studied LMLK paleography in depth, my overall script-knowledge is quite shallow.

        I've sent another 3 files to Kevin for the library. I'm short on time tonight, but near #50 in the same book are 2 others, #51 & #59, each with a completely different "O". If I'm not misunderstanding you, how can you (or anyone who coined it) use this letter for the basis of a space size if it's shape is so variable? Naturally, I'm

        aware that these 3 specimens may have been written by different people in different centuries (& my scans are not on even scales), but still, why not just call it a "space" rather than an "o-space"?

        Why not? Because the 'o' is the mensural base both for the height and the width of the rest of the letters within the central zone in a given script design. Calligraphers calibrate their writing in accord with the o. While the a/aleph/alpha controls the rest of a design, the o determines the width and the height of the a/aleph/alpha. (Some modern script designers like to start with a 'd' because a 'd' includes both the o and the ascender limit. Also, a 'd' gives you two letters for one: flip it and it's a 'p' and includes the descender limit.)

        Specimens will vary according to the width of the pen with which the text was written as well as whether the writer was a pro scribe, someone at the administrative level and wrote frequently, or someone who wrote only occasionally. The width of the pen controls the height and width of the o.
        Eshiyahu on #51 flattens his round letters. Check the lobes on the bet and the resh. Hmm,  just noticed that the space between BN and the Ayin is the area of the flattened ayin. Interesting. Some people have a great deal of difficulty making perfectly round o's; it takes a lot of practice. Perhaps this was the case here and he adapted his standard spacing to his flattened ayin. Maybe.

        On #59, the writer flattens his 'o'/ayin in, ahem, `M  ShLM. We do not have enough examples to see if this flattened shape is within the writer's cumulative range. The writer of the Siloam Tunnel Inscription was of administrative rank and a flattened ayin is within his cumulative range of variation.

        Point of the ppt is that, once you see the syllabic notation on hundreds of documents, you recognize it anywhere and in script or language.

        The other file is thanks to Michael Welch for mentioning that another ostracon (#54) contains simply "PSHR" (defectiva), which is indeed a nice tie-in with the original discussion in this long & interesting thread.

        And thanks again to Yitzhak for his very detailed analysis of the strokes on #50, & thanks to Rochelle for sharing this way-cool PPT!

        G.M. Grena


        Glad you checked the ppt. Did you learn anything from it?
        Now, if you checked the high res tif file, the errors in Mr. Sapir's drawing are quite clear -- as is the over-loaded-with-ink pen, the ink blobs in the resh and second mem, and the ink spread in the first pair. You don't have to be a pro calligrapher or a pro scribe to see it. Folks who had inkwells set into their desks and wrote with a straight pen back in grade school will spot an overloaded pen and the results every time.

        One thing that may help you with writing scripts is to hold the pen right. Scribes (and calligraphers) do not control the movement through their fingers. They hold the pen very loosely, keep their arm bent at the elbow with the forearm straight, and use their elbow as a fulcrum. Held this way, the pen/brush glides across the surface. No pressure at all is applied. Still, writing on ceramic or stone takes a lot of advanced scribal training. Stone scribes are specialists.

        You can see this in drawings of Egyptian, Assyrian, and Medieval scribes. The main difference between the way the Egyptian and Assyrian scribes held the quill/reed/brush and the scribes of the late antique and Medieval periods is that the Egyptians and Assyrians (and Canaanites??) grasped the pen well above the "nib" and closed their entire hand around the pen. While they may have begun by closed hand, later Latin and Greek scribes held the pen/reed/brush resting on the second finger with the first finger and thumb touching just enough to keep the instrument from sliding out of position. I suspect that Post-exilic scribes held the instrument the same delicate way. Other than that, they all wrote from the elbow.

        One word of advice if you do try to imitate the scripts. Expect to spend three to four hours *every* day for at least two weeks practicing by copying long texts after getting the basics into your nerve-motor system..

        Incidentally, artists do not hold a pen or pencil tightly in their fingers, either. A loose hold and the pen/pencil/charcoal/silver point is held with the instrument *under* the hand and well above the tip. Held this way, the instrument can change directions without changing the position of the hand.

        See, learn something new everyday. Right?


        Rochelle--Dr. R. I. S. Altman


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