Professor Owen, Cornell University: publiquem inscrições arqueológicas roubadas

A notícia está no blog Biblical Theology de Jim West, sob o título

Biblical Archaeology Review – Publish Looted Antiquities!

Another major scholar, cuneiformist David I. Owen of Cornell University, has issued a clarion call for the publication of looted inscriptions, despite the fact that they were recovered by criminal looters rather than archaeologists. Writing in Science magazine, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Owen states:”The rigid and uncompromising position of the archaeological establishment [against the publication of unprovenanced cuneiform inscriptions] only compounds the tragedy that the looting of archaeological sites in Iraq (and elsewhere) has presented. Not only have these precious records of the past been ripped from their original context, but now the archaeologists wish to suppress the very knowledge of their existence by banning their recording and publication…” (continua) [Obs.: link quebrado – blog descontinuado]

Descoberta a cidade onde começou a revolta dos Macabeus?

Segundo o jornal israelense Haaretz, são boas as chances de ter sido descoberto o local onde ficava a antiga cidade de Modin, famosa, porque foi aí que o sacerdote Matatias, contrário à helenização da Palestina, começou a conhecida revolta dos Macabeus em 167 a.C. Leia o artigo.


The Hasmoneans Were Here – Maybe

In late 1995, not far from the city of Modi’in, whose construction had begun a short time earlier, several excavated burial caves were found. The find aroused tremendous excitement initially, mainly because on one of the ossuaries an engraved inscription was interpreted to read “Hasmonean.” Had they found a burial plot belonging to the family of the Hasmoneans?

When the discovery was announced, the archaeologist digging there, Shimon Riklin, explained that this was not the grave built by Simon the son of Mattathias the Priest for his father and his brothers, which is described in the Book of Maccabees I. The use of ossuraies – stone containers for secondary burial, in which the bones of the dead who had been removed from their original burial place were placed – began in the second half of the first century BCE, more than a century after the beginning of the Hasmonean Revolt. However, the discovery reinforced the theory that the town of Modi’in, where the revolt broke out in 167 BCE, lay not far from the burial caves, in the area of the present-day Arab village of Midya.

A short time later, the excitement died down. A thorough examination made it clear that the word “Hasmonean” was not engraved on the ossuary. The settlement from which the Hasmoneans embarked on the revolt against the Seleucid ruler Antiochus is still waiting to be discovered, as is the burial plot in which Mattathias and his sons were buried.

New candidates for an old city

In the decade that has passed, two prominent candidates have joined the steadily lengthening list of locations that have been proposed as the site of ancient Modi’in. The most recent is Khirbet Umm al-Umdan, a site revealed in salvage digs conducted in 2001 by Alexander Onn and Shlomit Wexler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the area of the city of Modi’in, on a hill north of the road that connects it with Latrun.

Wexler-Bdolah and Onn propose that the site be identified as ancient Modi’in, because in their opinion, it best suits the information in the sources about the settlement in which the Priest Mattathias lived. According to ancient sources, Modi’in was a rural settlement that lay between the lowlands and the hills, alongside the main road linking Lod with Jerusalem.

“In our opinion, the settlement that we have excavated in Umm al-Umdan is a Jewish village. There are houses there separated by alleyways. It is not a large, planned urban settlement, but neither is it a lone house,” says Wexler-Bdolah. “But the most important find is the synagogue we discovered in the village. The synagogue is one of the earliest ever built – it was constructed during the Hasmonean period, apparently toward the end of the second century BCE or at the beginning of the first century BCE, and it continued to be in use, with certain changes, until the Bar Kokhba Revolt [132 CE]. Next to it a mikveh [ritual bath] was built in the first century CE.”

The synagogue is evidence that, in spite of its relatively modest dimensions, the settlement that was discovered at Umm al-Umdan was an important one, says Wexler-Bdolah. Its location, adjacent to an internal Roman road that led from Lod to Jerusalem, and the series of communities surrounding it – Beit Horon, Kfar Ruth, Tel Hadid, Anaba, Lydda-Diospolis, Emmaus-Nicopolis and Timna – also accord with the description of Modi’in on the Madaba map, a mosaic map located in Jordan, on which Modi’in is called Modita. Moreover, the name of the site, Umm al-Umdan, stems, in the opinion of Wexler-Bdolah, from letters in the Hebrew name Modi’in, making it the most suitable candidate for identification with the ancient city.

However, this is only a suggestion, not a certain conclusion. “Because we didn’t find an inscription that specifically says that Modi’in was here, at the moment you could say that there is no better candidate for this role than Umm al-Umdan,” she explains.

Huge settlement in modern Modi’in

Dr. Shimon Gibson, who conducted the excavations on behalf of the IAA in the area of modern Modi’in in the mid-1990s, when the momentum of construction and development in the area began, actually believes that he has a more worthy candidate. That would be Titura Hill, an archaeological site in the heart of modern Modi’in. In his opinion, one day we will discover that Titura Hill is a site of national importance. At the second Modi’in Conference – a one-day seminar scheduled to take place in the city tomorrow – Wexler-Bdolah and Gibson will present their reasons for identifying each of the sites with the ancient settlement.

At the top of Titura Hill a Crusader fortress was built, but in the excavations Gibson conducted with Egon Lass, he found the remains of settlements from many periods. The most ancient settlement was established there during the Iron Age – in the eighth century BCE – and the hill was populated in later periods as well.

Because an inscription declaring the identity of the site was not discovered on Titura Hill either, we can only rely on circumstantial evidence. Among such evidence, Gibson includes the dimensions of the settlement exposed there. “On Titura Hill there was a real city, Umm al-Umdan is only a village. During the Hasmonean period there was a huge settlement on Titura Hill. This fact is of importance, because the Hasmoneans tended to construct monumental buildings, out of a desire to prove their greatness.”

Gibson, a fellow at the Albright Archaeological Institute, says that Titura Hill has another advantage in the competition: On a clear day you can see the sea from there. From Umm al-Umdan, as well as another site mentioned as possibly being Hasmonean Modi’in, this is not possible. This fact accords with the description in Maccabees I, chapter 13, about the burial plot built by Simon son of Mattathias for his family. According to the description, the burial structure was tall and impressive. It included seven small pyramids and large columns with attractive carving that the sailors could see as well. In other words, from the hill one could see the sea. According to a description written hundreds of years after the death of the Hasmoneans, the burial plot remained in place for a long time afterward. It is described in manuscripts from the Byzantine period, by historian Eusebius in the fourth century CE, and on the sixth-century Madaba map. Crusaders who came to the Land of Israel during the 12th and 13th centuries also reported seeing it. But about 400 years ago, the reports about the Hasmonean graves ended.

The search begins

The matter was pushed to the margins of awareness until the second part of the 19th century, when European archaeologists and scholars began to make an effort to locate the town of Modi’in and the graves. The first proposal was that of a French Franciscan monk, who believed that the name of the Arab village of Midya preserved the name Modi’in. Others considered Tel al-Ras, a hill with ancient ruins, not far from Midya, the site they were looking for. In about 1870, a French scholar proposed that the ancient structure near the gravesite of Sheikh al-Arabawi adjacent to Midya was the Hasmonean grave, but another Frenchman, Charles Clermont-Ganneau, rejected the suggestion. In the early 20th century, students from the Hebrew Gymnasia high school in Jerusalem were hiking in the area, and they came to a site called Kubur al-Yahud, Arabic for “the graves of the Jews.” The place is still called “the graves of the Maccabees,” even though it is clear that the structures there were constructed during the Byzantine period, long after Hasmonean times.

The location of the burial plot constructed by Simon the Hasmonean, and the town where the revolt began, have still not been identified with certainty. Wexler-Bdolah says Khirbet Umm al-Umdan is the site with the greatest likelihood of being ancient Modi’in, but she has doubts, too. Gibson believes that Titura Hill is ancient Modi’in. And he can explain why no traces have been found of the monumental construction of the burial plot or the public buildings on Titura Hill: The buildings were dismantled during a later period, and used to construct other structures, like the Crusader fortress on top of the hill.

Fonte: Ran Shapira – Haaretz: 26.12.2005

A batalha de Hamoukar e as âncoras do Mar Morto

Você acompanhou estas duas interessantes notícias de arqueologia?

Em Tell Hamoukar, na Síria, arqueólogos sírios e norte-americanos encontraram os restos de uma grande batalha que destruiu a cidade por volta de 3500 a.C.


A huge battle destroyed one of the world’s earliest cities at around 3500 B.C. and left behind, preserved in their places, artifacts from daily life in an urban settlement in upper Mesopotamia, according to a joint announcement from the University of Chicago and the Department of Antiquities in Syria. “The whole area of our most recent excavation was a war zone,” said Clemens Reichel, Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Reichel, the American co-director of the Syrian-American Archaeological Expedition to Hamoukar, lead a team that spent October and November at the site. Salam al-Quntar of the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Cambridge University was Syrian co-director. Hamoukar is an ancient site in extreme northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border. The discovery provides the earliest evidence for large scale organized warfare in the Mesopotamian world, the team said (University of Chicago-Syrian team finds first evidence of warfare in ancient Mesopotamia).

E no Mar Morto, que está diminuindo drasticamente o nível de suas águas, duas âncoras, com a madeira bem preservada, acabaram descobertas. A mais antiga pode ser datada por volta de 500 a.C., e a outra é da época romana, por volta do século I d.C.


The first anchor, approximately 2,500 years old, was found where the Ein Gedi harbor was once located, and may have been used by the Jews of biblical Ein Gedi. The later anchor, some 2,000 years old, was constructed according to the best Roman technology and probably belonged to a large craft used by one of the rulers of Judea. As the sea recedes further, we may yet get to see the ship to which this anchor belonged. The 2000-year-old anchor, which originally weighed a massive 130 kg., is made from a Jujube tree and was reinforced with lead, iron and bronze. While the wooden parts are very well-preserved, its metal parts have disappeared almost entirely. Their traces have survived only in the crystals encasing the anchor. The design of the anchor is surprisingly modern: there are two flukes which were reinforced with a hook joint and a wooden plate fixed with wooden pegs, and a lead collar. The anchor also had a tripline, which was used to haul it out of the water. The ingenious earlier anchor, with some of its ropes still attached to it, is in an astonishing state of preservation. The oldest Dead Sea anchor known, it was made from the trunk of an acacia tree, with one of its branches sharpened to a point and originally reinforced with metal, to engage the seabed. Amazingly enough, most of the trunk is still covered in bark. The 12.5 meter-long ropes were made from date-palm fibers, each fashioned from three strands and lashed into grooves in the wood. Both anchors were weighted with a heavy stone lashed laterally (The Jerusalem Post).

As origens de Israel e o governo de Davi: a polêmica continua!

A Estela de Merneptah, a Inscrição de Tel Dan, o “Palácio de Davi” em Jerusalém… a polêmica sobre as origens de Israel e sobre a existência ou não de um grande reino governado por Davi continua. Acompanhe nos biblioblogs, no começo deste dezembro, mais uma rodada de argumentos.

Leia mais sobre isto, em minha História de Israel, aqui.

Tell es-Safi/Gat e o nome Golias

Toma conta da imprensa nestes dias, com tremendo sensacionalismo, a notícia da descoberta de um pequeno pedaço de cerâmica nas escavações de Tell es-Safi, ruínas da antiga cidade de Gat, no qual estão escritas duas palavras אלות = ‘lvth e ולת = vlth que teriam semelhança com o nome גלית = glyth, ou seja, “Golias”. Os nomes podem ser igualmente transliterados como ‘lwt e wlt ou )lwt e wlt, dependendo da convenção que se adote.

O óstracon (do grego, ostrakon, plural ostraka: um caco de cerâmica utilizado para se escrever alguma coisa) foi datado entre os séculos X e IX a.C. e as duas palavras estão escritas em um “proto-cananeu” arcaico. Tudo o que se sabe, por enquanto, é que existe a possibilidade destas palavras serem semelhantes a Goliath, ou Golias, nome que muitos especialistas acreditam ser de origem não-semítica, etimologicamente relacionado com vários nomes indo-europeus, como, por exemplo, o nome lídio Aliates. A escavação é dirigida pelo Dr. Aren Maeir, professor da Universidade Bar Ilan, em Ramat Gan, Israel.

Todo o sensacionalismo decorre da existência da narrativa de 1Sm 17, onde se conta que o jovem Davi, de Belém, no contexto das guerras entre o exército de Saul e os filisteus, enfrentou e matou um terrível guerreiro filisteu chamado Golias, originário de Gat (v. 4: “Saiu do acampamento filisteu um grande guerreiro. Chamava-se Golias, de Gat. A sua estatura era de seis côvados e um palmo“; v. 23: “Enquanto conversava com eles, o grande guerreiro – chamado Golias, o filisteu de Gat – apareceu, vindo da linha inimiga…”). Segundo esta narrativa, o estatura do Golias era de 2 metros e meio, mais ou menos!

A imprensa não especializada já está identificando, precipitadamente, os nomes encontrados em Tell es-Safi com o nome Golias e este com o personagem da narrativa bíblica, em tom bastante apologético, no estilo “a Bíblia tinha razão”. Sobretudo porque há, no mundo acadêmico, entre os chamados “minimalistas” e os “maximalistas”, uma acirrada disputa sobre o valor histórico das narrativas bíblicas, que pode ser vista aqui, e porque há um contexto político em Israel – na complexa luta entre israelenses e palestinos pelo território – que favorece este tipo de coisa. Os especialistas são mais prudentes, embora também neste meio não faltem conclusões apressadas.

A prudência, entretanto, se impõe, pois esta narrativa do livro de Samuel é considerada, nos meios acadêmicos, uma tradição deuteronomista bastante controvertida. Apresento, das muitas existentes, duas razões:
. a Obra Histórica Deuteronomista (OHDtr) foi escrita possivelmente no século VI a.C., em um gênero literário que não corresponde de modo algum ao nosso modo de escrever “história” hoje, herdado da tradição alemã
. por outro lado, o gigante Golias acaba morrendo duas vezes, pois segundo a mesma OHDtr, em 2Sm 21,19 se diz que “A guerra continuou ainda em Gob com os filisteus, e Elcanã, filho de Iari, de Belém, matou Golias de Gat; a madeira de sua lança era como cilindro de tecedeira“. Tentando conciliar as duas tradições, 1Cr 20,5, obra posterior à deuteronomista, diz: “Houve ainda outra batalha contra os filisteus. Elcanã, filho de Jair, matou Lami, irmão de Golias de Gat; a haste de sua lança era como um cilindro de tecelão” (estou utilizando a tradução da Bíblia de Jerusalém, nova edição, revista e ampliada, São Paulo, Paulus, 2a. impressão, 2003 – que, por sinal, erra, ao traduzir, em 1Cr 20,5, a palavra hebraica ‘ah por “filho” e não por “irmão”).

A Inscrição de Tel Zayit

No dia 15 de julho passado foi encontrado em Tel Zayit, sítio arqueológico situado na região de Lakish, no território de Judá, um “abecedário” hebraico. Contendo as 22 letras do alfabeto hebraico, a inscrição vem sendo considerada pelos arqueólogos como o mais antigo “alfabeto” hebraico de que se tem notícia, estando a pedra onde foi gravada inserida em uma construção do século X a.C. Fato curioso é que várias letras estão em ordem diversa do atual alfabeto hebraico, como a sequência vav, hê, hêth, záyin e têth, que hoje é hê, vav, záyin, hêth, têth. Ainda: sobre a origem e função da inscrição há opiniões divergentes entre os envolvidos em sua interpretação.

Especialistas em escrita antiga dizem que a inscrição mostra, provavelmente, um alfabeto ainda em fase de transição do fenício para o hebraico. Vale lembrar aqui que do alfabeto fenício derivam igualmente o ugarítico e o grego. A descoberta foi anunciada no dia 9 de novembro de 2005. No dia 20 de novembro a inscrição será apresentada e analisada na reunião anual da Sociedade de Literatura Bíblica (SBL), no Centro de Convenções da Filadélfia, na Pensilvânia.

Tel Zayit vem sendo escavada desde 1999 por uma equipe dirigida pelo Dr. Ron E. Tappy, professor de Bíblia e Arqueologia do Seminário Teológico de Pittsburgh, na Pensilvânia, USA. Além de financiado por doações da iniciativa privada, o projeto está ligado à ASOR – American Schools of Oriental Research -, com sede em Boston, MA, USA, e ao Instituto W. F. Albright para a Pesquisa Arqueológica, com sede em Jerusalém.


A Is for Ancient, Describing an Alphabet Found Near Jerusalem

In the 10th century B.C., in the hill country south of Jerusalem, a scribe carved his A B C’s on a limestone boulder — actually, his aleph-beth-gimel’s, for the string of letters appears to be an early rendering of the emergent Hebrew alphabet.

Archaeologists digging in July at the site, Tel Zayit, found the inscribed stone in the wall of an ancient building. After an analysis of the layers of ruins, the discoverers concluded that this was the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet and an important benchmark in the history of writing, they said this week.

If they are right, the stone bears the oldest reliably dated example of an abecedary — the letters of the alphabet written out in their traditional sequence. Several scholars who have examined the inscription tend to support that view.

Experts in ancient writing said the find showed that at this stage the Hebrew alphabet was still in transition from its Phoenician roots, but recognizably Hebrew. The Phoenicians lived on the coast north of Israel, in today’s Lebanon, and are considered the originators of alphabetic writing, several centuries earlier.

The discovery of the stone will be reported in detail next week in Philadelphia, but was described in interviews with Ron E. Tappy, the archaeologist at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary who directed the dig.
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“All successive alphabets in the ancient world, including the Greek one, derive from this ancestor at Tel Zayit,” he said.

The research is supported by an anonymous donor to the seminary, which has a long history in archaeological field work. The project is also associated with the American Schools of Oriental Research and the W. F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, in Jerusalem.

Frank Moore Cross Jr., a Harvard expert on early Hebrew inscriptions who was not involved in the research, said the inscription “is a very early Hebrew alphabet, maybe the earliest, and the letters I have studied are what I would expect to find in the 10th century” before Christ.

P. Kyle McCarter Jr., an authority on ancient Middle Eastern writing at Johns Hopkins University, was more cautious, describing the inscription as “a Phoenician type of alphabet that is being adapted.” But he added, “I do believe it is proto-Hebrew, but I can’t prove it for certain.”

Lawrence E. Stager, an archaeologist at Harvard engaged in other excavations in Israel, said the pottery styles at the site “fit perfectly with the 10th century, which makes this an exceedingly rare inscription.” But he added that more extensive radiocarbon dating would be needed to establish the site’s chronology.

The Tel Zayit stone was uncovered at an eight-acre site in the region of ancient Judah, south of Jerusalem, and 18 miles inland from Ashkelon, an ancient Philistine port.

The two lines of incised letters, apparently the 22 symbols of the Hebrew alphabet, were on one face of the 40-pound stone. A bowl-shaped hollow was carved in the other side, suggesting that the stone had been a drinking vessel for cult rituals, Dr. Tappy said. The stone, he added, may have been embedded in the wall because of a belief in the alphabet’s power to ward off evil.

In a study of the alphabet, Dr. McCarter noted that the Phoenician-based letters were “beginning to show their own characteristics.” The Phoenician symbol for what is the equivalent of a K is a three-stroke trident; in the transitional inscription, the right stroke is elongated, beginning to look like a backward K.

Another baffling peculiarity is that in four cases the letters are reversed in sequence; an F, for example, comes before an E.

The inscription was found in the context of a substantial network of buildings at the site, which led Dr. Tappy to propose that Tel Zayit was probably an important border town established by an expanding Israelite kingdom based in Jerusalem.

A border town of such size and culture, Dr. Tappy said, suggested a centralized bureaucracy, political leadership and literacy levels that seemed to support the biblical image of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century B.C.

“That puts us right in the middle of the squabble over whether anything important happened in Israel in that century,” Dr. Stager said.

A vocal minority of scholars contend that the Bible’s picture of the 10th century B.C. as a golden age in Israelite history is insupportable. Some archaeological evidence, they say, suggests that David and Solomon were little more than tribal chieftains and that it was another century before a true political state emerged.

Dr. Tappy acknowledged that he was inviting controversy by his interpretation of the Tel Zayit stone and other artifacts as evidence of a fairly advanced political system 3,000 years ago. Critics who may accept the date and description of the inscription are expected to challenge him when he reports on the findings next week in Philadelphia at meetings of the American Schools of Oriental Research and the Society of Biblical Literature

Fonte: John Noble Wilford – The New York Times: Nov. 9, 2005