Thursday, February 23, 2017

Are two elephants a fair trade for the Siloam Inscription?

EPIGRAPHY DEAL? Minister offers Turkish mayor elephants for ancient Hebrew inscription. 2,700-year-old Siloam inscription, taken by the Ottomans and still held in Istanbul, marks direct evidence of Bible’s account of King Hezekiah’s tunnel-building in Jerusalem (Ilan Ben Zion et al., Times of Israel).
Culture Minister Miri Regev used an impromptu trip to southern Turkey for a basketball game to offer a different kind of trade: Two elephants for an ancient inscription from Jerusalem currently housed in a Jewish museum, considered one of the most important ancient Hebrew inscriptions in existence.

Regev was heard making the offer in a video posted online of an informal chat with Gaziantep mayor Fatma Sahin Wednesday. Regev was in Turkey to accompany the Ironi Nahariya basketball team for a Europe Cup game, after Turkish authorities insisted that a minister be present in order for the team to bring their own armed guards.

In the video, Sahin, a politician from the ruling AKP party, speaks of her zoo’s elephant problem: it has just one, and it wants more.

“We’re willing to work for it,” the mayor quips.

Regev is heard telling her aides and translators, “We’ll make a deal. We’ll give them the elephants, and they’ll give us the inscription of Hezekiah.”

I guess it was worth a try.

For background on the Siloam inscription and the negotiations for its return to Israel, start here and follow the links.