Thursday, August 27, 2020

Tomb tryst in the Sidonian Cave?

MYSTERIOUS EPIGRAPHY: The Strange Afterlife of a Mysterious Tomb Inscription. “I lay with another but I love you, the one most dear to me” (Gitit Ginat, Atlas Obscura).
Not everyone is convinced. Some believe that it is indeed a message between two lovers, others that is more like a playful love poem. Others claim that the writer was a sex worker, sarcastically warning a client to come back and pay her.
Inscriptions involving people's private affairs are typically very hard to understand. Inevitably, much background is unstated. That is one reason why ancient letters (epistles) are difficult to decipher.

This Greek inscription is fascinatingly ambivalent but seems to involve some communication between erotic partners. But the nature of the relationship, the point of the message, and even if both were still alive, remain unclear.

The highly decorated and inscribed tomb complex in the "Sidonian Cave" is remarkable in itself.

For more on Beit Guvrin-Maresha National Park, which became an UNESCO Heritage Site in 2014, see here. Another cave in the area produced a large archive of Aramaic and Greek inscribed bullae. See here, here, and here, and follow the links for more on the region.

CORRECTION: Apart from a few Greek letters and numbers, those bullae were uninscribed. But another excavation at Maresha did produce a lot of Aramaic ostraca.

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