Friday, September 16, 2016

The inscription on that ancient weight

EPIGRAPHY: Rare High Priest’s stone weight from Second Temple period found in Jerusalem. Asked how it felt to have the soot of one of Judaism’s most historic events on his flesh, Gutfeld paused thoughtfully for a moment. “It is amazing when you think about what you are digging.” (Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post).

This article has some new information on the discovery and decipherment of the inscription on the weight. On the latter:
“While I was digging in the burnt layer, I found a stone weight covered with soot, and only one of the 600 stone weights uncovered from the Second Temple period had a Hebrew inscription. So, I looked at it and smiled to myself thinking maybe it’ll have an inscription, and when I put it in a bucket of water and took it out I started to shiver.”

Immersion in the water, Gutfeld said, revealed two lines of inscribed text.

“The lower line had the name of the family of a high priest named ‘Katros’ written in Aramaic, but we could not understand the meaning of the upper line until recently, which is why we delayed publication of the find until now,” he said.

After years of analysis, Gutfeld said it was recently determined that the first line also was inscribed with the family’s name, but in ancient Persian.

“It was used to measure weight on a scale – maybe even for objects in the Temple,” he explained. “So it makes sense that the family name was inscribed on the stone.”

Moreover, Gutfeld said the family is criticized in the Mishnah for being corrupt and buying the title of priesthood.

“It was very popular during the Second Temple period to buy into the priesthood,” he said.
Background here.