Saturday, October 29, 2016

Jerusalem papyrus latest

EPIGRAPHY: Archaeologists question ‘oldest’ Hebrew mention of Jerusalem. After Antiquities Authority unveils papyrus from 7th century BCE, several experts warn it is far from certain artifact is authentic (APF/Times of Israel). I don't want to keep recycling the same news, but I thought one place in this article merits comment. I still think that, on balance and on the basis of the limited information now available, the inscription on the papyrus is more likely to be genuinely ancient than not. Nevertheless:
“If I were a forger, I’d choose a more impressive text,” Shmuel Ahituv said.
This is a very weak argument and actually highlights the main thing that makes me doubt that the inscription is genuine. If I were a forger and were going to forge a late Iron Age II Hebrew inscription, this is exactly what I would come up with. I would make it a banal economic text but put a bombshell reference in it, perhaps naming a specific king of Judah or Israel or, yes, mentioning Jerusalem. There is a real danger that this papyrus is too good to be true.

I hope it turns out to be genuine, but we'll see. Again, publication by press release is just not good enough. The lab reports for materials tests that have been conducted on the object should be released in full immediately and the case for its genuineness should be published in a peer-review journal with good photographs, a full account of how it was obtained, and all relevant details. The latter will take time, but let it be done with all deliberate speed.

Background here and links.