Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Pahlavi-Aramaic inscription from Beit She’arim

ARAMAIC WATCH: Researchers Crack Secret of 1,400-year-old Inscription From Catacomb in Israel. Exaltation my mouth? Graffito from Beit She’arim cemetery confounded scholars for decades – until they figured out it was written in Aramaic using a Persian alphabet. But its true meaning remains inscrutable (Ariel David, Haaretz).

The inscription is a grafitto. The article says it was probably left by a Jewish pilgrim. It is written mostly in the Middle Persian Pahlavi script, but its language is Aramaic.

There is lots of Judeo-Persian literature — written in the Hebrew alphabet but in the Persian language. This is the first Pahlavi-Aramaic text I recall encountering, where it goes the other way around. But I don't doubt that there are others. The Pahlavi script is itself based on the Aramaic (Hebrew) alphabet.

UPDATE: For more on Pahlavi, see here.

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