Friday, July 01, 2011

Aramaic cuneiforms?

Important Archeological Discoveries in Hasaka for the Current Excavation Season Jun 29, 2011 HASKA, (SANA) - The excavation works conducted by the national, foreign and joint expeditions in Hasaka Province have unearthed several important archeological monuments dating back to different ages. In a statement to SANA, Director of Hasaka Antiquities Department, Abdul-Masih Baghdou said that the researches conducted by the national archeological expedition in Tal Mabtouh Sharqi indicated that Mabtouh City includes tracks for the streets and spillways which indicates the progress of the social life in it. Baghdou indicated that during the current season, four archeological levels were unearthed at the site including the level of metal clay which dates back to the Akkadian era, inside the level walls and floors were found, in addition to a squeezer consisting of a basin. [...] He added that inside the level which dates back to the Ancient Babylonian Era, the expedition unearthed a number of the brick-made buildings and tombs including human skulls and funerary materials such as bronze-made tool and spear blades, in addition to Aramaic cuneiforms dating back to the Ancient Babylonian era. [...]
Aramaic cuneiforms? Aramaic written in cuneiform script is not unknown (one example is the Uruk incantation), but it is extremely rare. If that is really what these tablets are, it is quite an exciting discovery. But given SANA's track record for garbling in these articles (see here, here, and here), I suspect the original announcement said something different, perhaps that Aramaic and cuneiform texts had been discovered. That's still good, though. UPDATE: If "the Ancient Babylonian Era" means the Old Babylonian period, there could be cuneiform tablets, but Aramaic did not yet exist. Then again, perhaps they mean the Neo-Babylonian era, in which case Aramaic inscriptions are possible. But the indications of periods are very unclear. The "Akkadian era" seems to be distinguished from the "Ancient Babylonian Era" and the "Modern and Middle Assyrian Age." Perhaps this is a garbled way of referring to the Old Babylonian, Neo-Babylonian, Neo-Assyrian, and Middle Assyrian periods? As I said, it's very unclear. UPDATE (2 July): Duane Smith comments at Abnormal Interests.