Ukazał się kolejny numer czasopisma Studia Palmyreńskie, t. XIII. Monnaies des fouilles polonaises à Palmyre, pod redakcją Michała Gawlikowskiego.
Ukazał się kolejny numer czasopisma Studia Palmyreńskie, t. XIII. Monnaies des fouilles polonaises à Palmyre, pod redakcją Michała Gawlikowskiego.
Ancient Tablets Displayed in Jerusalem Fuel Looting Debate Daniel Estrin
JERUSALEM — At first glance, the ancient Babylonian tablets on exhibit for the first time at a Jerusalem museum look like nothing more than pockmarked lumps of clay.
But the 2,500-year-old treasures from present-day Iraq have become part of a thorny archaeological debate over how to handle historically significant relics thought to have been dug up in the fog of war by Mideast antiquities robbers.
Experts in cuneiform writing, one of the world’s earliest scripts, say the collection of 110 cracker-sized clay tablets provides the earliest written evidence of the Biblical exile of the Judeans in what is now southern Iraq, offering new insight into a formative period of early Judaism.
The tablets, though, also tell a murkier story, from the present era, according to scholars familiar with the antiquities trade — a story of the chaos in Iraq and Syria that has led to rampant pilfering of rich archaeological heritage and a rush of cuneiform tablets on the international antiquities’ market.
The collector who owns the tablets on display this month at the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, insists they were purchased legally, decades before that looting began. However, an ancient history scholar familiar with the artifacts disputes that.
Leading U.S. museums have pledged not to exhibit unprovenanced artifacts that have surfaced in recent decades, as part of an effort over the last decade to discourage illicit antiquities trafficking. But cuneiform inscriptions have emerged as a notable exception, with some arguing these relics would be lost to history if they did not make it into scholarly hands.
„We are not interested in anything that is illegally acquired or sneaked out,” said Amanda Weiss, director of the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem.
„But it is the role of a museum to protect these pieces,” she added. „It’s what we are here for.”
The plundering of antiquities in the war-torn Middle East has become a primary concern for the archaeological community, and some archaeologists even compare satellite images of sites in Iraq and Syria to moonscapes, after antiquities robbers went through them.
Archaeologists claim the Islamic State extremists and militants from other groups are funding their activities in part through illegal trafficking of antiquities, and authorities worldwide have been taking action to try to stem the flow.
What first sparked awareness of the issue, archaeologists say, was a deluge of cuneiform artifacts on the Western antiquities markets after the first Gulf War in 1991.
In the years that followed, archaeologists estimate that hundreds of thousands of small clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions made their way into the hands of dealers. Many contained incrustations, indicating they were „fresh out of the earth,” said Robert Englund of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.
An American scholar of ancient Jewish history familiar with the tablets on display in Jerusalem said they were purchased on the London antiquities market at the time when cuneiform artifacts were flooding the market, a strong indication that the items were looted. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a potentially illegal activity.
Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story London-based Israeli collector David Sofer, who loaned the cuneiform collection to the Bible Lands Museum, denied any foul play. He said he purchased the tablets in the United States in the 1990s from a person who obtained them in public auctions in the 1970s.
Sofer said a few tablets from the collection were displayed in a New York museum and a Los Angeles museum in 2013, and their import and export in the U.S. was properly reported to U.S. authorities. He would not name the two museums, or the person who sold them to him.
„These things would be lost, and wouldn’t be recognized for what they are” if he hadn’t bought them, Sofer said.
As common as cuneiform tablets are, few have been as celebrated as those on display in Jerusalem.
The tablets fill in a 130-year gap in the history of the Judeans exiled to Babylon after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century B.C., said Laurie Pearce, a cuneiform expert from the University of California, Berkeley.
The earliest of the tablets, which have dates inscribed on them, is from just 15 years after the destruction of the First Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and the inscription suggests the displaced Judeans were more quickly absorbed into the Babylonian society than previously thought, said Pearce, who studied the collection.
The tablets include administrative documents such as land agreements, showing the Judeans were „integrated almost immediately,” she added.
The Jerusalem museum says the tablets likely originate in today’s southern Iraq, and reference common Judean names, including Netanyahu, the last name of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The topic of cuneiform artifacts still roils the archaeological community.
The American Schools of Oriental Research, an academic research association, bans scholars from publishing articles on artifacts illegally excavated or exported from their country of origin after 1970, when the U.N. adopted its policy against antiquities trafficking.
But in 2004, the association made an exception, allowing publications about cuneiform artifacts that have no record of how they were unearthed — under the condition that Iraqi antiquities authorities give their consent and that the artifacts are eventually returned to Iraq.
The exception was made because the esoteric wedge script writings are so valuable to historical study, said Eric Meyers of the association.
The policy is now again a point of contention in the field. Over the past year, scholars at the association have debated changing the policy again, with most experts leaning against publishing articles on cuneiform artifacts as these objects continue to hit the markets, Meyers said.
Archaeologists excavate fortified site from ancient Kingdom of Judah Thu, Feb 05, 2015
Excavators uncover possible remains of biblical Libnah.
Archaeologists excavate fortified site from ancient Kingdom of Judah
An archaeological team is excavating a site that is showing evidence of having been a fortified settlement belonging to the Kingdom of Judah both before and during the time when the Assyrians were sacking the kingdom’s cities in the 8th century BCE.
Known today as the site of Tel Burna, the mound is located in the fertile rolling plains of the Shephelah, a region between the coastal plains and the Jerusalem mountains in central Israel. It is an area that, anciently, served as a strategic borderland between the Philistines in the west and ancient Israel and the kingdom of Judah to the east. Today, Tel Burna is surrounded by other ancient sites that have been intensely investigated and excavated over the years. But this site has seen relatively little exploration and research-until now.
According to project director and Ariel University assistant professor Dr. Itzhaq Shai, the site was long known to exist but full-scale excavations did not begin at the location until a few years ago.
„Several surveys have been conducted in the region,” said Shai, „however, the site had never been excavated until the summer of 2009, when we began a long-term archaeological project on the site.”
Though still young, the excavations have already revealed important clues to the site’s identification within the context of biblical history. „The identification of the site has been debated for more than a century,” states Shai. „There are scholars who have claimed that Tel Burna is biblical Libnah, which was mentioned several times in the Bible. This identification was based mainly on geographical and historical arguments……… To date, there are other candidates for the location of ancient Libnah, including nearby Tel Zayit; however, the exposed archaeological remains at Tel Burna support this identification, with both the geographical, survey and excavation data fitting well with what we know and expect from a border town in the Iron Age.”
The biblical account has it that Libnah was one of the places the Israelites stopped during the Exodus, and became a town in the Kingdom of Judah. It was the site of a revolt II Chronicles (21:10) during the reign of King Jehoram of Judah because the king „had abandoned [the] God of his fathers.” Josiah, another king of Judah, married Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah (1 Chronicles 3:15; 2 Kings 23:31-32;2 Kings 24:17-18; Jeremiah 22:11), whose sons Jehoahaz and Zedekiah also became kings of Judah. And in 732 BCE, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers under King Sennacherib were, according to the biblical record, killed by an angel of God while they were encamped near Libnah, preventing them from advancing to Jerusalem from the Judahite city of Lachish.
Thus far, excavations have revealed part of a 13th century BCE public structure, with finds that included Cypriot votive vessels, a scarab with dozens of beads, a cylinder seal, a rich ceramic assemblage of goblets, chalices, Cypriot zoomorphic vessels, local and imported Cypriot and Mycenaean figurines, fragments of ceramic masks and two large Cypriot pithoi. „All in all, the building size and the effort that was undertaken in order to build it alongside the presence of unique vessels indicate that this was a 13th century public building where ritual activity took place,” said Shai.
Clear evidence of fortification walls was also uncovered defining the summit of the mound, and dating suggests their use during the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. Said Shai, „the Iron Age II (1000 – 586 BCE) wall reflects the role of this site during this period. The location of Tel Burna-midway between Gath, the dominant Philistine city in the Iron Age IIA (1000 – 925 BCE), and Lachish, the main Judahite city, monitoring the road along Nahal Guvrin, with visibility all the way to the coastal plain – would account for the investment of the central authority of Judah in establishing such a walled city so close to the city of Lachish.”
Other finds included LMLK (of or belonging to the king – like state property) and Rosette stamped pottery handles and pillar figurines, all indicative of a Judahite presence. Six silo structures were also uncovered.
„The Iron Age remains attested to the importance of the settlement at the site and that it was a fortified Judahite border site facing the Philistines in the west,” summarized Shai.
Shai and his team plan to return to the site in 2015, when they will expand the excavated areas to uncover more of the Late Bronze public building, the Iron Age fortifications, agricultural installations, and Late Bronze Age burial caves.
Readers may learn more about Tel Burna and how to participate and support the excavations by going to the project website. A detailed article by Dr. Shai about the Tel Burna excavations will be published in the Spring 2015 issue of Popular Archaeology Magazine.
Eisenbrauns is pleased to announce that all eleven volumes in the State Archives of Assyria (SAA) and State Archives of Assyria Studies (SAAS) that have gone out of print in recent years have been reprinted and are available through Eisenbrauns. The newly available volumes are: SAA 2 - Parpola & Watanabe - Neo-Assyrian Treaties and Loyalty Oaths (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/PARNEOAS) SAA 3 - Livingstone - Court Poetry and Literary Miscellanea (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/LIVCOURT) SAA 5 - Lanfranchi & Parpola - The Correspondence of Sargon II, Part II (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/LAN2CORR) SAA 7 - Fales & Postgate - Imperial Administrative Records, Part I (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/FAL1IMPE) SAA 8 - Hunger - Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/HUNASTROL) SAA 10 - Parpola - Letters from Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/PARLETTER) SAA 11 - Fales & Postgate - Imperial Administrative Records, Part II (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/FAL2IMPE) SAA 12 - Kataja & Whiting - Grants, Decrees and Gifts of the Neo-Assyrian Period (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/KATGRANTS) SAA 13 - Cole & Machinist - Letters from Priests to the Kings Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/COLLETTER) SAAS 2 - Millard - The Eponyms of the Assyrian Empire 910-612 B.C. (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/MILEPONYM) SAAS 11 - Mattila - The King's Magnates (www.eisenbrauns.com/item/MATKINGSM) To celebrate, for the month of February Eisenbrauns is offering a sale on all of these titles, and several other SAA and SAAS volumes. The discounted books are all available at www.eisenbrauns.com/pages/SPECIAL. Eisenbrauns continues to serve as the exclusive distributor for all SAA series published by the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project.
Zachęcamy do lektury najnowszego numery 15 n. 3 (2014). Sporo ciekawych tekstów, no i wolny dostęp….
X Sympozjum zmienia swoją dotychczasową formułę i poszerza obszar zainteresowań. Obejmie teraz znacznie szerszy zakres merytoryczny, pozostając konferencją skierowaną do przedstawicieli różnych dyscyplin naukowych, zajmujących się Bliskim Wschodem w starożytności i dziedzinami pokrewnymi. Od tego roku starożytny Izrael będzie tylko jednym z tematów obecnych podczas obrad. Nasze sympozjum poszerza swą formułę, by pomieścić również badaczy zajmujących się innymi obszarami starożytnego Wschodu.
Zachęcamy badaczy zajmujących się studiami związanymi ze starożytnym Bliskim Wchodem do zgłaszania propozycji sesji tematycznych w obrębie X Sympozjum (prosimy o kontakt: przemyslaw.dec-at-uj.edu.pl). W marcu mamy nadzieję opublikować listę sesji wraz z nazwiskami ich przewodniczących. Otwarta wówczas zostanie możliwość nadsyłania wystąpień w ramach poszczególnych sesji tematycznych.
Reklamujemy tę książkę, bo Oriental Institute Uniwersytetu chicagowskiego wzorcowa prowadzi politykę otwartości w nauce. Książkę można kupić w jej wydaniu papierowym, lub bezpłatnie pobrać w wersji PDF. Oto tryumf idei open-access.
Najnowszy numer pisma polskich archeologów pracujących w Egipcie i na Bliskim Wschodzie. Jest się czym pochwalić. Zawartość numeru 27 pisma Etudes et Travaux dostępna na stronie wydawcy – IKSiO PAN.
Szkoda tylko, że w sieci jedynie abstrakty…
The present volume is the main achievement of the Research Networking Programme ‘Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies’, funded by the European Science Foundation in the years 2009–2014. It is the first attempt to introduce a wide audience to the entirety of the manuscript cultures of the Mediterranean East.
The chapters reflect the state of the art in such fields as codicology, palaeography, textual criticism and text editing, cataloguing, and manuscript conservation as applied to a wide array of language traditions including Arabic, Armenian, Avestan, Caucasian Albanian, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Slavonic, Syriac, and Turkish.
Seventy-seven scholars from twenty-one countries joined their efforts to produce the handbook. The resulting reference work can be recommended both to scholars and students of classical and oriental studies and to all those involved in manuscript research, digital humanities, and preservation of cultural heritage.
The volume includes maps, illustrations, indexes, and an extensive bibliography.
Zachęcamy do eksploracji zasobów opracowanych przez Akademię Języka Hebrajskiego. Jest tam wszystko to czego prawdziwy hebraista potrzebuje do szczęścia.