Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Aramaic potsherd from Tal al-Humira

ARAMIAC WATCH: SANA has published another of its profile articles on Syrian archaeological sites and, as usual, there are chronological difficulties:
Stone Basins and Ovens, Mud Brick Houses from 2000 BC Discovered in Damascus Countryside

Aug 09, 2011

DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE, (SANA) – Mud brick houses dating back to the late Jomon period (from about 2000 to 1000 BC) were discovered at Tal al-Humira archeological site in Deir Attiya in Damascus Countryside.

In a statement to SANA, Director of Damascus Countryside Antiquities Department Mahmud Hammoud said that the national archeological mission working at the site unearthed stamps, pottery vessels and stone basins and ovens of different sizes in addition to Basalt instruments and vessels.

He added the importance of Tal Humira site emerges from witnessing the prosperity of Aramaic Kingdoms, in addition to the Assyrian kings' attacks on Damascus Kingdom.

Hammoud indicated that the archeological mission also unearthed an inscribed pottery fragment with Aramaic letters which indicates the possibility of finding a temple at the site.

R. Raslan/ Ghossoun
First, I am baffled by the reference to the "Jomon period." This is not my field, but the only "Jōmon period" I've heard of refers to Japanese prehistory.

Be that as it may, the article puts the finds as "dating back to ... from about 2000 to 1000 BC." Does that mean that they are supposed to come from within that range of time, or that they extend that far back but also include a later period? It isn't clear, but apparently the latter is what is intended. I say that because of the potsherd inscribed with Aramaic. An Aramaic inscription before 1000 BCE would be very remarkable and probably unprecedented. All Aramaic inscriptions I know of are from the Iron Age II (ca. 1000-600 BCE) or later, so presumably this one is as well.

In any case, I hope they do find that Aramean temple. Preferably with its archive intact.