Tuesday, September 06, 2005

JEWISH INCANTATION BOWLS, it seems, are alive and well and are still being produced today.

UPDATE: Evidently an Aramaic incantation bowl is on display at a museum exhibition at the University of Melbourne:
Early Writing in Egypt and Mesopotamia
Reviewer Penny Webb (The Age)
September 6, 2005

The Classics and Archaeology Collection,
Ian Potter Museum of Art,
University of Melbourne, Swanston Street, Carlton,
Until February 19

Annexed to the Ian Potter Museum of the University of Melbourne is a first-floor, light-filled room with large Gothic-arched windows visible from Swanston Street. It houses an archaeological display - pots and vases, coins, manuscripts and carvings - that's just a fraction of the 2500 or so pieces in the university's Classics and Archaeology Collection.

And, for a couple of months, it's being supplemented by 18 pieces from the Australian Institute of Archaeology, Melbourne. (The institute has been without a permanent exhibition site since 1999.)

Compiled by its director Christopher Davey, these pieces illustrate different scripts and early uses of writing (the doings of kings, records of produce, official expenditure, names of troops, a land transaction, property titles) in a variety of materials (stone and ceramic tablets, linen, vellum and papyrus fragments).


But waste no time indulging in invectives against your enemies using the sand-coloured ceramic cursing bowl inscribed on its inside surface with brush-drawn Aramaic script (from Jerusalem, second century BC).


Either the museum placard on this display contained errors, or else the reporter took careless notes, because the provenance and date are clearly wrong. All ancient Aramaic incantation bowls that have a certain provenance were discovered in Iraq. And they date from the fifth to the seventh centuries CE. But the bowl sounds cool. Too bad there's no picture.

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