Monday, December 16, 2013

More on the Sa’adah tombstone

ARAMAIC WATCH: The story of the Sa’adah tombstone is covered in the NYT: Chasing 5th-Century Clues From a Woman’s Tombstone (James Barron). Excerpt:
Dr. Fine recalled their conversation. “He said, ‘This is a Talmudic object, it should be at Yeshiva.’ I said, ‘O.K.’ He said, ‘Do you have any money?’ I said no” — a similar tombstone offered for sale was listed for $2,500 to $3,000 in Israel, Dr. Fine said. “He said, ‘Do you have anything to trade?’ I said no. He said, ‘Why don’t you come out and give a lecture and take it home?’ I did everything I could to convince him that he shouldn’t give it to us. He kept saying, ‘No, no, this is something that should be with you.’ So I went there.”
Another interesting point that had not registered with me before is that the inscription is "sandstone with paint on it." I don't know how common painted tombstones in Jordan from the fifth century are, but this brought to mind the Gabriel Revelation, which is also an inscription, possibly from Jordan, composed with ink on stone, although it is composed in Hebrew rather than Aramaic and (if genuine) it is several centuries older. My impression is that ink-on-stone is quite unusual, so I would interested in knowing more about these late antique tombstones.

And it perhaps does bear repeating that both inscription are unprovenanced.

Background on the Sa’adah tombstone, with photographs, is here.