Friday, October 12, 2007

JEAN-FRANCOIS CHAMPOLLION -- The Champ Of Hieroglyphics and a role model for Investor's Business Daily.
The City of David, below and above ground
By Danny Rubinstein (Haaretz

The uncovering of ancient sites currently taking place on the City of David hill, on the slope south of the wall around Jerusalem's Old City, is almost certainly the most impressive archaeological enterprise in Israel today. During a visit there during the Sukkot holiday, one could see thousands of visitors, tourists from abroad and Israelis. They toured the visitors' center on top of the hill, descended to the large area of Warren's Shaft, named after Charles Warren, the famous Welsh officer and researcher of Jerusalem who discovered the shaft 140 years ago, and continued from there to the relatively new digs at the Silwan Pool. Anyone who made an effort could peer through the fence at the deep digs being carried out in the area called Givati parking lot, and in another area that extends southward on the slope.

The discoveries are fascinating: sections of ancient streets, water projects that have been in place since they were constructed over 2,000 years ago, remains of palaces that are hard to identify because on the City of David hill about 20 stages of settlement have been found, dating from its founding until the Middle Ages.

The discoveries involve a series of problems, almost all of them political. Because Jerusalem will be central to the negotiations to be renewed shortly between Israel and the Palestinians, these problems must be addressed.

The digs at the site are being conducted by archaeologists, with authority and permission, but the administration of the various sites is in effect in the hands of the Elad association (a Hebrew acronym for To the City of David), which was established more than 20 years ago and whose goal is to settle Jews on the site. There are similar associations that purchase assets and settle Jews (mainly yeshiva students) in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and these things are known. However, there is nothing like this association, which has become an empire of archaeology and tourism. It is headed by David (Davideleh) Beeri, an energetic man who is succeeding in raising money and enlisting support, and his work has expanded the activity of the association relating to archaeology and tourism beyond the City of David as well.

Palestinians Want Western Wall as Part of Any Settlement

Staff Reporter of the Sun
October 12, 2007

UNITED NATIONS — As an American-hosted Middle East summit approaches, Palestinian Arabs are hardening their positions: An aide to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, said yesterday that the Palestinians will demand sole Arab control over Judaism's holiest site in Jerusalem, the Western Wall.

Mr. Abbas's adviser on religious affairs, Adnan al-Husseini, made the new demand in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, sparking an outcry from many Israeli politicians who complained that recent reports about the Olmert government's proposal to transfer Arab-dominated neighborhoods in Jerusalem to the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state have led to further Arab demands.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

POSTGRADUATE CONFERENCE on interdisciplinary approaches to the bibical world:
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 11:47:23 -0400
From: Adam Mendelsohn amend@BRANDEIS.EDU
Subject: CFP: Graduate Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Biblical World

The School of Religions and Theology, Trinity College Dublin is pleased to invite papers for the Second Annual Biblical Studies Conference, Graduate Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Biblical World (GIA), 15-17 February 2008. The conference is open to all research students, both at Master and Doctoral level.

The aim of GIA remains to foster Postgraduate research on the contexts of ancient Judaism and early Christianity particularly in its engagement with related disciplines, social scientific approaches to the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament and the continuous dialogue with the field of archaeology. It is our hope that we will facilitate this engagement with a conference specifically organised for postgraduate students to present their work.

The first GIA brought postgrads from all stages in researching, and the committee intends to continue with the same broad format. A relaxed atmosphere is intended to attract students who may be presenting their work for the first time. Students beginning their research may gain experience and learn in dialogue from those closer to submission of their doctoral theses. In structured sessions with 20 minute papers and 10 minute discussion sessions, we will also provide an opportunity for more advanced students to engage critically with each other's work.

Papers should be twenty minutes in length and in English; 250-word (maximum) abstracts should be submitted by 8 December 2007 to and should include the applicant’s educational standing (year, course). There will be no poster session. There is no submission fee; registration fee (in Euros only) is €30 on site, €25 early.

Presented abstracts will be eligible to submit for the intended peer-reviewed publication of the proceedings. Deadline for this submission will be 1 month following the symposium.

Jason M Silverman
Graduate Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Biblical World
School of Religions and Theology
Trinity College Dublin
(From the H=Judaic list.)
Dutch researcher claims to confirm Queen Jezebel's seal
By Cnaan Liphshiz (Haaretz)

For some 40 years, one of the flashiest opal signets on display at the Israel Museum had remained without accurate historical context. Two weeks ago, Dutch researcher Marjo Korpel identified article IDAM 65-321 as the official seal of Queen Jezebel, one of the bible's most powerful and reviled women.

Israeli archaeologists had suspected Jezebel was the owner ever since the seal was first documented in 1964. "Did it belong to Ahab's Phoenician wife?" wrote the late pioneering archaeologist Nahman Avigad of the seal, which he obtained through the antiquities market. "Though fit for a queen, coming from the right period and bearing a rare name documented nowhere other than in the Hebrew Bible, we can never know for sure."

Avigad's cautious approach stemmed from the fact that the seal did not come from an officially-approved excavation. It was thought to come from Samaria in the ninth century B.C.E., but there was no way of knowing for certain where it had been found. And that has been the scientific hurdle that Korpel - a theologian and Ugaritologist from Utrecht University and a Protestant minister - set out to conquer.

In her paper, scheduled to appear in the highly-respected Biblical Archaeology Review, Korpel lists observations pertaining to the seal's symbolism, unusual size, shape and time period. By way of elimination, she shows Jezebel as the only plausible owner. She also explains how two missing letters from the seal point to the Phoenician shrew. (See box.)

The "box" can be found here.
To show the seal belonged to Queen Jezebel, Dr. Korpel had to address one crucial matter: The seal reads YZBL, whereas Jezebel's name was known to begin with aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. By comparing the seal with similar signets from the same historical period, Korpel showed that seals commonly carried two letters on the top part - precisely where Jezebel's seal was missing a small piece. In keeping with the known pattern from other seals, the first missing letter is almost certainly the possessive lamed. This means the seal probably carried one other letter - the first letter of the owner's name.
Also, Joseph I. Lauer points to Dutch publications here and here which have pictures.

A few comments. If the seal was found in 1964 it's not a product of the forgery ring that seems to have produced a lot of supposedly Bible-related inscriptions somewhat later on. Nevertheless, the seal is unprovenanced, which should make us nervous. Biblical Archaeology Review is a respected popular magazine that has a lot of good articles, but I would like to see the case made in a peer-review journal. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (12 October): Duane Smith comments at Abnormal Interests.
PIETER VAN DER HORST is interviewed about the origins of anti-Semitism by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Excerpts:
"As far as we know Alexandria in Egypt was the birthplace of anti-Semitism's ideology. There also the first pogrom in history-as we now would call it-took place. In Asia Minor, which is now Turkey, there also were large Jewish communities from the fourth or third century BCE onward. One finds there no endemic hatred of the Jews as in Alexandria.

"The initial indication of a negative attitude toward Jews is found at the beginning of the third century BCE in the writings of an Egyptian priest called Manetho. This Greek-speaking Egyptian devotes a large section of his main work, which deals with the history of Egypt, to the Exodus of the Israelites."

Prof. Pieter van der Horst studied classical philology and literature. In 1978 he received his PhD in theology from Utrecht University. After his studies he taught there, among other things as professor of Jewish studies. Van der Horst is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Parallels with Today

"The fact that the Jews are monotheistic is no longer a real issue these days. Contemporary anti-Semitism by and large comes from Christians and Muslims, who consider themselves monotheists. The Jew-hatred these days stems from different sources than in antiquity.

"There is, however, another parallel with antiquity. The otherness of the Jews played a large role in their image among Greek and Roman circles. That also is the case in our own times. Anti-Semites perceive the Jews as being different, and this leads them to see them as dangerous. This imagined danger leads to hatred of the Jews.

"One horrifying aspect of the history of Jew-hatred, namely, the twenty-three centuries of anti-Semitism that we know of, is the tenacity of so many motifs such as that Jews are dangerous and enemies of humankind. These ideas are and always have been demonstrably false. They are, however, much alive up to the present day. It is apparently impossible to break through these perceptions.

"The image of the Jew as an enemy is grotesque and easily exposed as pure nonsense. Still these images are kept alive among many millions of people all over the world. That this is possible is one of the most frightening aspects of the history of Jew-hatred."
ROMAN-ERA JEWISH FLOOR MOSAICS are on display at the Dayton Art Institute:
Sanctuary in time

Ancient synagogue floor mosaics make Roman World at DAI a must see

By Marshall Weiss, The Dayton Jewish Observer

Prepare to be floored by a synagogue floor. Through January 6, the Dayton Art Institute is home to the The Roman World: Religions and Everyday Life, featuring Jewish mosaics from the Brooklyn Museum.

Twelve mosaics — sections of the sanctuary floor of a sixth-century synagogue in Tunisia — are the stars of the show.

They were unearthed in 1883 when French army captain Ernest de Prudhomme ordered soldiers to prepare his backyard for a garden. What they dug up were the first archeological ruins of a Roman-period synagogue.

In 1905, the Brooklyn Museum purchased the sanctuary panels, which were last exhibited there in 1998.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IN THE MAIL -- a review copy of:
Maureen Bloom, Jewish Mysticism and Magic: An Anthropological Perspective. (New York/Oxford: Routledge, 2007)

Providing a unique anthropological perspective on Jewish mysticism and magic, this book is a study of Jewish rites and rituals and how the analysis of early literature provides the roots for understanding religious practices. It includes analysis on the importance of sacrifice, amulets, and names, and their underlying cultural constructs and the persistence of their symbolic significance.
Israeli archeologist stoned near Temple Mount
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS (Jerusalem Post)

An Israeli archeologist taking part in a dig in
Jerusalem's ancient City of David was stoned Tuesday near the Temple Mount, the archeologist said.

The archeologist was not injured in the early morning attack near a Muslim cemetery in the area, but the stone hit his car.

The suspected Arab assailants fled the scene and a
border police patrol did not find the attackers.

Jerusalem police spokeswoman Sigal Toledo said that a group of Arab children apparently threw the stone.
Joseph I. Lauer reports on his list that he wrote to Etgar Lefkovits to ask the obvious question -- who was the archaeologist? Lauer reports: "He responded, 'an associate of Hebrew U archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar'. Unfortunately, I do not have any more information."
Conference on Teaching Rabbinic Literature:
Bridging Scholarship and Pedagogy
January 27-28, 2008

A research conference featuring presentations by and discussions with outstanding teachers of rabbinic literature from diverse settings and multiple levels.
(Via the H-Judaic list.)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SYRIAC CONFERENCE (from Dr David G.K. Taylor on the Hugoye list):
The 5th annual conference of the "Societe d'etudes syriaques" will take place in Paris
16 November 2007


*9h 15* : accueil
Moderator: Arnaud Serandour
*9 h 30* : Sebastian Brock : « Présentation des Bibles syriaques et exposé de la problématique ».
*10 h* : Gilles Dorival : « Bibles syriaques, Bibles hébraïques et Bibles grecques ».
*10 h 30* Marinus Koster, Olivier Munnich, Adrian Schenker : « Le polymorphisme du texte biblique et la place des versions syriaques ».
11 h 15: Pause
*11 h 30* : Philippe Le Moigne : « Peut-on définir une théologie de la Peshitto L’exemple du livre d’Isaïe ».
*12h* : Jean-Claude Haelewyck : « Le canon de l’Ancien Testament dans la tradition syriaque (listes canoniques, auteurs, manuscrits) ».

Moderator: Pier-Giorgio Borbone
*14 h 30* Timothy Michael Law : « La version syro-hexaplaire et la transmission textuelle de la Bible grecque ».
*15 h* Alison Salvesen : « La version de Jacques d’Édesse ».
*15 h 30* Bas ter Haar Romeny : « La réception des différentes versions : l’apport des citations dans la littérature patristique ».
16 h : Pause
*16 h 15* Konrad Jenner, Wido van Peursen : « La diffusion des manuscrits bibliques conservés : typologie, organisation, nombre et époques de copie ».
*16 h 45* Bernard Outtier : « L’ancien Testament en arménien et en géorgien : des traductions du syriaque ? ».
*17 h 15* Sidney Griffith : « Les premières versions arabes de la Bible et leurs liens avec le syriaque ».

*Venue* : Les Cordeliers, 15 rue de l’École de médecine, 75006 Paris, Salle Gustave Roussy, Escalier B, 2e étage.

Free entrance.

*With the support of*
l’ANR (programme DATI : De l’antiquité tardive à l’islam)
l’UMR 8167 Orient et Méditerranée Laboratoire des études sémitiques anciennes (CNRS)
l’UPR 841 Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (CNRS)
le ministère des Affaires étrangères
l’université Paris IV-Sorbonne
l’École doctorale I (Mondes anciens et médiévaux) de l’université Paris
l’Institut universitaire de France.

The acts will be published next year in 'Etudes syriaques 5'.
AN ARCHAEOLOGY TELETHON, plus more (Punic) Phoenicians in Europe:
Italy resorts to telethon to protect antiquities

Tom Kington in Rome
Monday October 8, 2007
The Guardian

Weighed down by the burden of restoring and protecting hundreds of crumbling archaeological and cultural sites, the cash-strapped Italian government has resorted to a direct appeal to Italians for contributions through a three-day TV telethon.

With the aim of raising €3.5m over the weekend, Italian opera singers, actors and conductors were enlisted to plead for cash in a stream of adverts on state broadcaster RAI, warning of dire consequences if sites such as the Palatine hill home of Emperor Augustus were not patched up.

Article continues
Launching the marathon fundraiser on Thursday the culture minister, Francesco Rutelli, told TV audiences of the dangers of leaving digs and monuments unprotected from tomb raiders in a country that boasts 41 Unesco designated sites but can only afford €300m of the €700m required for their annual upkeep.

To soaring music by Ennio Morricone, seven sites featured in rotating TV spots, including Augustus's villa where the frescos and flooring are decaying, the Sulky Punic necropolis in Sardinia, dating back to the fourth century BC, and an abandoned Norman fort near Cosenza.

Europe's oldest city' is found
By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Published: 09 October 2007 (The Independent)

Archaeologists in Spain's southern port of Cadiz believe they have found remains which prove that it is Europe's oldest inhabited city – Phoenician Gadir, or Gades in Roman times.

Remnants of walls have emerged seven metres deep in a dig beneath Cadiz's old town centre which have been dated to the 8th century BC. Scientists found shards of Phoenician pottery, and pieces of jars, bowls and plates once used in everyday life which all point towards the existence of a town. A well-preserved bronze brooch has also appeared, suggesting a high level of civilisation. Previous finds, including funeral relics, did not provide conclusive evidence of urban settlement.

By the way, my home Internet access has finally been restored. The problem turned out to be a faulty telephone socket.

Monday, October 08, 2007

MAARAV, A Journal for the Study of the Northwest Semitic Languages and Literatures, has a new issue (13.2, 2006) printed and about to be sent out. Jack Sasson has posted the TOC on the Agade list:
Bibliographical Abbreviations 141
(r) Raymond Westbrook
Reflections on the Law of Homicide in the Ancient World 145
(r) Paul G. Mosca
Some Grammatical and Structural Observations on the Trophy Inscription from Kition (Cyprus) 175
(r) Alejandro F. Botta
The Legal Function and Egyptian Background of the fylv Clause: A Reevaluation 193
(r) David P. Wright
The Laws of Hammurabi and the Covenant Code: A Response to Bruce Wells 211
(r) Rebecca Hasselbach
Review of Pratique de la grammaire akkadienne: Exercices et corrigés
(Florence Malbran-Labat) 261
(r) Alan S. Kaye
Review of Grammaire comparée des langues sémitiques: Éléments de phonétique de morphologie et de syntaxe (Jean-Claude Haelewyck) 269
Corrigendum 277
Simon B. Parker 279



The Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill invites applications for a tenured/tenure track appointment in Hebrew Bible, effective July 1, 2008. The rank is open.

The candidates must be prepared to teach large introductory undergraduate courses in the Hebrew Bible, courses on ancient Israelite history and religion, and upper level courses and graduate seminars requiring close reading of Biblical texts. Thorough knowledge of Hebrew and Aramaic, and familiarity with the major issues of textual, historical, and literary criticism of the Hebrew Bible will be assumed. Scholars with secondary (teaching and research) competence in a range of fields and subfields are invited to apply, including but not limited to the languages, literatures and cultures of the Ancient Near East, Biblical archaeology, or Septuagint and Qumran studies. Successful candidates will also be expected to direct doctoral students in collaboration with faculty in the Department of Religion at Duke University. Both teaching and research of the candidates need to be related to the problems and issues in the study of religion broadly conceived.

Send letter of application, current curriculum vitae, and the names and addresses (email and postal) of five references to: Chair of Hebrew Bible Search Committee, Department of Religious Studies, CB# 3225, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3225 ( Completed hard copy of the application and accompanying documents must be received by January 4, 2008. The University of North Carolina is an equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.
(From the Agade list.)
'Jordan will have custody of Temple Mt.'

The Israelis and Palestinians have reached an agreement by which, in a final peace deal, the Temple Mount's holy sites will be transferred to Jordanian custody, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Monday morning. Also, according to the London-based newspaper, it was agreed that Jordanian citizenship would be granted to 90,000 east Jerusalem residents.

According to the report, it is also likely that a supreme supervisory commission will be established, which will include representatives from the UN, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Perhaps this story is related.
British university forced to return 'looted' Iraq treasure
By Andrew Johnson (The Independent)
Published: 07 October 2007

One of Britain's leading universities is embroiled in an embarrassing row over hundreds of treasures looted from Iraq.

Found scattered around ancient Mesopotamia, the Aramaic incantation or devil bowls were placed upside down in homes during the sixth to eighth centuries to trap evil spirits. The spells, and information such as the names of the home owners, are not found in any other source. One collection contains the earliest examples of the Bible in Hebrew.
This is somewhat garbled. I've never heard them called "devil bowls" before, although I suppose they could be. Some of the names in the bowls are known from other sources (e.g., Rav Joshua bar Perahya, who also appears in rabbinic texts). And, although the bowls do quote passages from the Hebrew Bible from time to time, these bowls are not the earliest sources for the Hebrew Bible. Rather, the Dead Sea Scrolls are. [UPDATE: Actually, the very earliest fragment of a text found in the Hebrew Bible appears in the Ketef Hinnom silver amulets.]
Anther collection is at the centre of a legal row that has divided Britain's academic community. Since the first Gulf War in 1990, Iraq has been a looters' paradise. The United Nations introduced a sanction in 2003 making it illegal to handle artefacts from the country. So when University College London came into possession of 654 bowls, the biggest collection in the world, which it loaned from a private collector, suspicions were raised.

The bowls belong to Martin Schoyen, a Norwegian collector of ancient scripts. There is no suggestion that he looted the bowls, or was aware they may have been looted when he bought them in London from a Jordanian who claimed they had been in his family for generations.

UCL set up a committee of inquiry which found that "on the balance of probability" the bowls had, somewhere along the line, been looted from Iraq.

At this point Mr Schoyen sued UCL for their return. Legally his claim is sound, because he has held title for seven years. What has dismayed academics, however, is that the inquiry report was suppressed as part of the out-of-court settlement.

Professor Colin Renfrew, a fellow at Cambridge University and a member of UCL's committee of inquiry, is angry that the settlement said the report should be withheld. A world expert in ancient treasures, Lord Renfrew said UCL had no choice but to return the collection.

The situation sounds messy. For previous PaleoJudaica coverage, see here, here, and here. For some introductory comments on the Aramaic incantation bowls, go here.

By the way, my broadband access is still down at home, but I'm working on it.