Thursday, January 27, 2022

An inscribed amulet from the Mount Ebal altar excavation

NORTHWEST SEMITIC EPIGRAPHY AND ICONOGRAPY: Ancient Hebrew Amulet Discovered at Joshua’s Altar in Samaria (Aryeh Savir, Tazpit News Agency, trans. the Jewish Press).
An ancient amulet made of lead and written in ancient Hebrew was found among the remains of the excavation carried out at the archeological site on Mount Ebal in Samaria, where the biblical-era altar of Joshua bin Nun is located.

The amulet is inscribed with the letter Alef and a mark reminiscent of a lotus flower.

[...]

The amulet was recently sifted out of stored dirt that was excavated in the 1980s at the Mount Ebal site. It sounds as though the dirt was associated with the altar, and so presumably came from the closing centuries of the second millennium BCE. That fits with the description of the alef later in the article:
The results showed many grooves in the amulet, one of them resembling a bull’s head, known in ancient times as an “Alef,” the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet.
But the account is not very clear. The photo is terrible. I await clarification.

For PaleoJudaica posts on the Iron Age I altar on Mount Ebal, start here and follow the links. The altar is often, as in this article, called "Joshua's altar." That is a possible interpretation. But absent an an inscription saying "Joshua built this," it remains speculative.

UPDATE: Incorrect link now corrected!

Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.