Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Aramaic or Assyrian Ikea instructions?

ARAMAIC OR ASSYRIAN IKEA INSTRUCTIONS? The final paragraph of this Guardian article:
British Museum buys Assyrian treasures cleaned by Agatha Christie

The crime writer used face cream to restore the ivories discovered in the city of Nimrud by her archaeologist husband
says the following:
Scholars are itching to get their hands on the ivories after the exhibition. Some of the pieces have notes on the back in ancient Aramaic, which appear to be the Ikea flatpack instructions of almost 3,000 years ago on how to assemble the furniture.
Why ancient Aramaic? That doesn't make any sense to me; Assyrians in Nimrud in the seventh century would be writing in Assyrian (Akkadian), not Aramaic. Can anyone confirm what language these assembly notes are in?

UPDATE: Dorothy King e-mails to solve the mystery, which only arose from my careless reading of the article. An earlier paragraph in the article says:
The collection comprises almost 1,000 numbered items, as well 5,000 fragments or unnumbered pieces. These carved ivories, dating from the 9th-7th centuries BC, were mostly made in Syrian and Phoenician cities near the Mediterranean coast and were brought to Assyria as loot.
These ivories must have been from Syria, where the assembly instructions would have indeed been in Aramaic.