Saturday, May 03, 2003


"Monuments Recall Another Empire That Ignored Writing on the Wall" (New York Times)

A thoughtful essay by Alan Riding on how ancient Babylon had become a symbol of Saddam's regime to the people of Iraq, including the looters.

An Introduction to Aramaic
Greenspahn, Frederick (Review of Biblical Literature)

Philip S. Alexander and Geza Vermes, Qumran Cave 4, XIX: Serekh Ha-Yahad and Two Related Texts (Dennis Pardee) p. 132

Frank Moore Cross, From Epic to Canon: History and Literature in Ancient Israel (Dennis Pardee) p. 133

(both from the latest issue of the Journal of Near Eastern Studies. You have to open the PDF review file and then scroll down to the proper page.)

Friday, May 02, 2003

THE INSTITUTE OF MICROFILMED HEBREW MANUSCRIPTS has a website. In the past I have gotten microfilms of medieval Hekhalot manuscripts from them and Dr. Richler has always been very helpful. For those interested in such things, there is also an e-mail discussion list on Hebrew manuscripts to which I subscribe. Its message volume is low and generally pretty technical. It has a website and there is also an old page with an announcement of its inception which is a little more informative. (Scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page or do a page search for "Rabbi Yehoshua Scult".)

Thursday, May 01, 2003


"Loss Estimates Are Cut on Iraqi Artifacts, but Questions Remain" (New York Times via Iraqcrisis)

The bottom line is that fewer antiquites were lost from the Baghdad Museum (and elsewhere) than originally thought, although no one yet knows what the actual number is. Some items have been returned by looters and some were removed by staff before the war and are in safe hands. The actual number is somewhere between the extremes given above. I hope it turns out to be closer to the lower number!

Also, check out this site from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology:

The Cultural Heritage of Iraq

"Gilgamesh tomb believed found" (BBC, via Archaeologica News)

Archaeologists in Iraq believe they may have found the lost tomb of King Gilgamesh - the subject of the oldest "book" in history.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh - written by a Middle Eastern scholar 2,500 years before the birth of Christ - commemorated the life of the ruler of the city of Uruk, from which Iraq gets its name.

Now, a German-led expedition has discovered what is thought to be the entire city of Uruk - including, where the Euphrates once flowed, the last resting place of its famous King.

Maybe. I can't remember anything about Gilgamesh being buried in the Euphrates and I can't find anything about this in the Epic. But it sounds as though they're finding lots of interesting things anyway.

What, you ask, does this have to do with ancient Judaism? Well, the Gilgamesh Epic has a Flood story with parallels to both the J and P versions of the Flood, and the Priestly writer comes in the PaleoJudaic time period. Plus, a Sumerian Gilgamesh fragment quotes the same proverb as Qoheleth 4:4b, and Qoheleth's advice in 9:9-10 is strikingly similar to the advice of Siduri the barmaid to Gilgamesh in Tablet X iii, at least showing that some of Qoheleth's ideas have a background in Gilgamesh material. And Gilgamesh himself appears as a giant in the Aramaic Book of Giants from Qumran (for a summary of which, follow this link).

So there!

Wednesday, April 30, 2003


"Art Experts Urge Sealing Iraqi Border" (Fox News)

If Stigmata wasn't enough for you, check this out:


Apr 29 2003

Why Gibson is gambling �18m on movie epic about the last hours of Jesus... in Latin

From Kevin O'Sullivan In Los Angeles

ALL Hollywood worships at the altar of the almighty dollar. In the showbiz capital of the world the bottom line is money. Lots of it.

So you have to take your hat off to Mel Gibson for bucking the Tinseltown system in spectacular style.

Throughout his next not-so-eagerly awaited production, the characters speak only in two dead languages: Latin and Aramaic.

Plus he's making everybody mad at him. Well, what did he expect?
MORE ON DONALD D. BINDER'S WEBSITE on ancient synagogues, etc., which has an enormous collection of "NT Resources," most of which are of paleojudaic interest. These include links to a vast array of ancient literature online (biblical, extra-canonical, Judaica, early church fathers, etc.); an ancient languages page with links for Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Coptic; a papyrology page with links to lots of resources, including the Duke Databank, Oxyrhynchus Papyri sites, the Apis Collection, photos of and data on NT MSS, and other information; and a page with links to many archaeological sites from the NT period. A random sampling gives me the impression that most are useful and only a few have gone dead. An excellent site overall.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003


"'Scroll' stands again" (StarTribune)

"The Scroll," the sculpture that stood for 40 years in front of the downtown Minneapolis Public Library, was raised again Thursday at the headquarters of Veit Companies, a construction, demolition and disposal company in Rogers. It will be the centerpiece of a new plaza.

Chief Executive Officer Vaughn Veit said the project cost about $15,000. But Veit said that there's value in having a corporate symbol that was originally inspired by the Dead Sea Scrolls, an ancient collection of Biblical and historical writings.

"It's a reminder to our people of what it's all about -- that God is the answer to everything in this world, and that we're only here a very short time," Veit said.

(My emphasis.)

Well, any publicity is good publicity. Right?

"Franks: Troops Locating Artifacts in Iraq" (The Guardian)

"Experts to Draft Iraq Antiquities Plan" (The Guardian)
FLYSERVER is working again, so the "About PaleoJudaica" link to the right is back online.

This is to announce a new mailing list:

Iraqcrisis: A moderated list for communicating substantive information on cultural property damaged, destroyed or lost from Libraries and Museums in Iraq during and after the war in April 2003, and on the worldwide response to the crisis:

IraqCrisis is a heavily moderated list, and traffic is not expected to be heavy. The moderator will not permit discussion or chatter - postings will be limited to items with substantive content. For a sample of the kinds of notices appropriate for distribution on IraqCrisis, please see the publicly accessible archives at:

To subscribe, please use the form at the URL cited above.

Please repost this message wherever it might be useful.

-Chuck Jones-
Charles Ellwood Jones
Research Associate - Bibliographer
The Oriental Institute - Chicago
1155 E. 58th St. Chicago IL 60637-1569
Voice (773) 702-9537 Fax (773) 702-9853

BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY REVIEW now has its May-June issue out. Nothing in the online version is of immediate paleojudaic interest, but there are discussions of the "Jehoash Inscription," debates about the "minimalist" school of biblical studies, and an announcement of a $10,000 contest for a convincing forgery (really).

Monday, April 28, 2003


"Plunder of museums began a decade ago" (Gulf News via the Command Post)

This article by Paul Watson appears to have come out in the Los Angeles Times, which I'm not registered to access, and it has been picked up in a couple of other places. Lots of interesting rumors involving a belly dancer, gold artifacts, a chained skeleton, and the usual brutalities of Saddam's regime. I link, you decide.
FLYSERVER, where I keep my files for PaleoJudaica, is currently down - I presume temporarily! This means that you can't access the "About PaleoJudaica" link to the right. However, at this moment (no promises for the next moment), Blogger's archives are working, so any readers who are so moved can access the "About" file here in my first posting for this blog.

Technology. Bah!
THE DINUR CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN JEWISH HISTORY (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) has an online Jewish Resource Center with more that 6000 links to 30 areas of Jewish history, including:

Biblical History
The Second Temple Period
Online Texts
Journals Relating to Jewish History

and more. Highly recommended.

Sunday, April 27, 2003


"Looters May Have Destroyed Priceless Cuneiform Archive" (via the Biblical Archaeology Society)


Looters at Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities pillaged and, perhaps, destroyed an archive of more than 100,000 cuneiform clay tablets -- a unique and priceless trove of ancient Mesopotamian writings that included the "Sippar Library," the oldest library ever found intact on its original shelves.

Experts described the archive as the world's least-studied large collection of cuneiform -- the oldest known writing on Earth -- a record that covers every aspect of Mesopotamian life over more than 3,000 years. The texts resided in numbered boxes each containing as many as 400 3-inch-by-2-inch tablets.

The Sippar Library, discovered in 1986 at a well-known neo-Babylonian site near Baghdad, was one of the archive's crown jewels. Dating from the sixth century B.C., it comprised only about 800 tablets, but it included hymns, prayers, lamentations, bits of epics, glossaries, astronomical and scientific texts, missing pieces of a flood legend that closely parallels the biblical story of Noah, and the prologue to the Code of Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonian lawgiver.

"This is the kind of discovery that one waits 100 years to see," said Yale's Benjamin Foster, curator of the Yale Babylonian Collection. "And now we'll never have another chance. It's a tragedy of the first order." Foster said only about two dozen of the Sippar Library tablets have been fully analyzed and published.


"Let the Market Preserve Art" (OpinionJournal, via the Arts and Letters Daily)

"Iraq's 'most wanted' stolen relics" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

"Chalabi's men hand 'rescued' artefacts back to museum" (The Independent)

"Barbarians at the gates" (The Guardian)

"Officials convinced museum was looted to order"(The London Times)

"Research in Iraq still a dubious possibility" (The Daily Northwestern)

"Ancient Samarra Stands Largely Untouched" ( via Archaeologica News)

And from the satire file:

"Iraqi artifacts returned by Winona Ryder" (Tallahasse Democrat)