Thursday, October 30, 2008

More on 10th Century BCE Inscription

The ostracon that Yosef Garfinkel found is making more news today. The story I posted last night was more on the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa. This one today is more on the inscription. I think caution is in order in identifying it as Hebrew, but Garfinkel has his reasons. Here's an excerpt.
The Israelites were not the only ones using proto-Canaanite characters, and other scholars suggest it is difficult - perhaps impossible - to conclude the text is Hebrew and not a related tongue spoken in the area at the time. Garfinkel bases his identification on a three-letter verb from the inscription meaning to do, a word he said existed only in Hebrew.

"That leads us to believe that this is Hebrew, and that this is the oldest Hebrew inscription that has been found," he said.

Other prominent Biblical archaeologists warned against jumping to conclusions.

Hebrew University archaeologist Amihai Mazar said the inscription was very important, as it is the longest proto-Canaanite text ever found. But he suggested that calling the text Hebrew might be going too far.

"It's proto-Canaanite," he said. "The differentiation between the scripts, and between the languages themselves in that period, remains unclear."
It's still a significant find and I hope it's published soon with a good photo so I can read the text myself. There's also a brief notice on the find here.

UPDATE: Continuing down my blog feeds, I've noticed that Todd Bo
len links to the story in the Jerusalem Post. Jim Davila posted the same news and appears to have been first among the blogs I follow to pick up the additional story from today about the inscription, though he only beat Antonio by about a half hour.

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