Ancient Inscriptions

This week I finished reading an interesting book about one of the early scripts that was used for writing.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth, Margalit Fox, Alice Kober, Michael Ventris, Linear B, MinoanThe Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by Margalit Fox tells the story of the finding of Linear B and how it was decoded.

The first inscriptions were found by archaeologist Arthur Evans in Crete in 1900, but it took many years for the inscriptions to be decoded.

Early work on the script was done by Alice Kober, but the eventual cracking of the code was accomplished by Michael Ventris.

The language that was written with the script was found to be an early form of Greek called Mycenaean Greek. Linear B dates from about 1450 BC and is one of the earliest known writing systems.

There is an earlier version of the script called Linear A that possibly records the Minoan language.

I was surprised to find that a limestone bowl inscribed with several symbols from Linear A/B was unearthed at Lachish by Ussishkin. The symbols are possibly from a transitional phase as they have characteristics of both Linear A and B. Scholars are divided as to exactly which script was being used.

Of course this has me thinking of other ancient inscriptions and writing systems.

Gezer Calendar, Phonicean Script, Paleo HebrewDuring the dig we visited Gezer. See A Geezer went to Gezer

While there we saw a large replica of the Gezer Calendar. That weekend we also saw a replica that was the actual size at the Israel Museum.

The script used in the Gezer Calendar is either Phoenician Script or Paleo Hebrew. The calendar is from the 10th century BC.

Khirbet Qeiyafa, Inscription, Proto-Canaanite, 10th century BCWe also saw the Qeiyafa inscription which is from the 10th century BC. The script in this inscription is Proto-Canaanite or another closely related script.

Lachish, Inscription, Proto-Canaanite, bslst, white chalkThe bowl shown here was found at Lachish and is from the 13th or 14th century BC. The Proto-Canaanite inscription is written in chalk.

Lachish Jug, Proto-Canaanite, Script, Lachish, Fosse Temple IIIThis jug from the Fosse Temple III at Lachish also has a Proto-Canaanite inscription. The jug is from the 13th century BC. According to Biblical Lachish by David Ussishkin the inscription reads: “Belonging to Matan. An offering to my lady Elat.”

Inscriptions found at an archaeological site can be very helpful as they provide the archaeologists with a lot of information. Even if the inscription is just a few characters or words, it can tell a lot about the culture from that time period.

While at the dig we were told to be very careful when washing pottery and to look out for inscriptions. We didn’t find any inscriptions that I know of during the first two weeks of the dig at Lachish, but we were always reminded to watch out for one.

Steven

 

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One Response to Ancient Inscriptions

  1. Pingback: Lachish Inscription | Braman's Wanderings

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