Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ladies' Week

Boy, what a backlog! I decided to cram, what under normal circumstances would be 3 separate blogs, into 1. In case anybody asks how I spent my extra hour (thanks to Daylight Savings Time) this year, I spent it with 3 terrific ladies!

Jane Cahill:

In the previous blog, I summarized my impression of Ms. Cahill's lecture on Jerusalem--particularly archeology of the City of David in the 10th century.

She was kind enough to send a transcript of her 9,000-word lecture to me, so now I can read it & refer to it over & over! Here's a snippet of her opening, & the concluding questions she said people should ask themselves when reading Biblical critics (i.e., Minimalists):

"Based in part on the date ascribed to these [silver, Ketef Hinnom] amulets, some commentators have concluded that the Bible's historical narrative was composed no earlier than the late 7th c. BCE, and that, consequently, its descriptions of the United Monarchy ruled by David and Solomon from Jerusalem in the 10th c. BCE have little or no historical value. All such commentators rely on archaeological evidence from Jerusalem to support their conclusions. I plan to spend the next 45 minutes describing that evidence, and another 10 minutes explaining why even non-archaeologists should know that evidence should not be cited in support of arguments that the United Monarchy did not exist or that Jerusalem was not its capital."


"Contrary to assertions that 10th c. Jerusalem lacked monumental architecture, the stepped rampart and the large stone structure that it supported, built in the 12th c. and built over in the 10th, is arguably the MOST monumental structure built in any ancient city in Israel before the Greco-Roman period."


"In short, any argument that the United Monarchy could not have existed because Jerusalem lacks evidence of either monumental architecture or significant occupation ascribable to the 10th c., disregards the evidence, and sound principles of archaeological interpretation that led seasoned stratigraphers like Kenyon and Shiloh to conclude that infrastructural features such as the fortification and water supply systems remained in use for long periods of time."


"(1) Does the commentator have first hand knowledge of the subject? Does the commentator rely on primary or secondary evidence? Does the commentator engage all or most of the evidence? None of the commentators who have concluded that Jerusalem could not have served as capital of an Israelite United Monarchy have excavated in Jerusalem, examined the relevant pottery and artifacts, or analyzed them in print."


"(2) Are the commentator’s analogies and comparisons appropriate? Does the commentator’s use of rhetorical devices outweigh the use of well reasoned logic?"


"The argument now is that radio carbon dates from sites in the northern kingdom substantiate not only the 'low chronology,' but also the conclusion that Jerusalem was no more than an impoverished village during the 10th c. BCE. Yet, none of the radio-carbon dates come from Jerusalem, and none come from loci or strata with pottery comparable to that used to date the stepped rampart, the houses built above it, or any of the other features ascribable to the 10th c. occupation."


"[E]ven non-archaeologists should be able to recognize many of these views as based on straw man and paper tiger rhetorical arguments that ill befit possessors of the bully pulpit. The next time you read an archaeological commentary, ask yourself the questions I’ve just outlined. If the answers to any of these questions is “yes,” then a red flag should rise; if the answer to all of them is “yes,” that flag should wave."

All I can say is: Cahill for president!

Lori Palatnik:

I first heard/saw "Lori Almost Live" back in February, & enjoy her fresh, lively perspective very much. Something in her discussion on September 9th ("Here Comes the Judge" at the 2:10 & 2:30 marks) stopped me in my tracks though:

"Avinu Malkeinu - my Father, my King"

Note the popularity of the 4 possible English transliterations per Google:

"Avinu Malkeinu"--39,400
"Avinu Malkenu"--15,900
"Aveinu Malkeinu"--94
"Aveinu malkenu"--25

Actually, the Hebrew translation is, "Our Father, our King". It's the opening words of each verse of a Jewish litany of supplication that is recited in synagogues with special devotion during the Ten Days of Penitence (except on the Sabbath), which mark the beginning of the new religious year. Reform Jews recite the prayer only on Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur, the first & last day of the 10-day observance.

Here's the full text & translation of the folk song that's the last verse of the Avinu Malkeinu prayer (omitted if Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath):

Avinu Malkeinu,
Chaneinu V'aneinu,
ki ein banu ma'asim.
Assei imanu ts'dakah vachesed,

Our Father, our King,
Hear our voice, Lord our God,
pity and be compassionate to us,
and accept--with compassion and favour
--our prayer.

Marjo C.A. Korpel:

Nearly a year old now, Marjo Korpel published the first reference to the LMLK Research website in a peer-reviewed, academic journal (albeit not a very widely distributed one): Journal for Semitics vol. 15 #2, "Seals of Jezebel & Other Women in Authority".

See Figs. 3 (LMLK Dotcom ID# 073; currently H2D #67) & 6 (Redondo ID# 4; currently S4L #26) plus f/n 36 on p. 361 where she mentions the website (unusual for a scholar not to credit each photo).

It actually sets another milestone, too, being the 300th member of the LMLK Publications Bibliography!

As for her text, in section 2, pp. 352-3, she says:

"To identify the owner of a jar of wine or oil, a seal could be impressed on its handle. Figure 3 shows a very interesting specimen. The groove of the ring or the stamp in which the stone was embedded is clearly visible. Behind the winged sun with six rays faintly the word "lmlk" is readable. So the jar was the property of a king. ... In Figure 5 you see another seal of Hezekiah on which a winged scarab is engraved, again an Egyptian religious symbol. In this case too the same kind of seal has been found on jar handles with the inscription LMLK '(Belonging) to the king' (Fig. 6)."

Here's where a little expertise comes into play. The imaginary "groove" she's talkin' about is nothing more than a raised mound of clay caused by the deep depression the stamper made with the seal. At this point in time, there is no indisputable trace of a ring-groove on any of the 800+ handle photos I've scrutinized (including hundreds of handles I've examined in person--both provenanced & unprovenanced specimens). For one thing, LMLK seals, which ranged from about 29x21mm to 37x24mm, seem a bit too big to have been worn as rings designed for dunking into wet clay on a regular basis; besides, the setting would've made the overall size even bigger!

But then again, what do I know about fashion?

The evil Queen Jezebel might have worn rings that big, but what about the typical priest or government official?

Song of the week: "Jezebel" by Sade (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 26-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena


Peter said...

Dear George,

I just read your quotes from Jane Cahill's lecture on the architecture of 10th century BC Jerusalem. Unfortunately I couldn't attend the meeting and therefore I must base my arguments merely on your quotes. I cannot know for sure what Cahill really said. So the following must be understood in the good spirit of discussion, not as negative criticism of her work. Quite to the contrary. I value Cahill's work a lot and would have hoped to see more of her work in print.

However, as I recently discussed the dates of the 'Davidic' monuments with the excavator Dr Eilat Mazar I just want to make a statement here. Note that this is not currently Mazar's view, but solely mine.

Her excavation team was recently able to show that both the palatial structure and the stepped stone structure (to the east) - i.e. including the underlying terraces - were built at the same time. Other scholars (such as Cahill herself and Magreet Steiner) have cogently argued based on pottery finds from underneath and inside the stepped structure, that the latter MUST have originaged in the 12th and not in the 10th century BC, historically (unless the historical date of the 12th c. is wrong and must be revised down into the 10th c. BC). I do not understand what Cahill means when she said 'built in the 12th' and 'built over in the 10th cent. BC'. Does she actually mean 'rebuilt'? But even so, it needs to be stated, that she herself has clearly argued that the stepped structure - which many believe to be Solomon's Millo - was destroyed early in the Iron Age IIA period (traditionally 10th cent. BC) - to make room for houses on the eastern slope of the City of David.

As the Iron Age IIA pottery found in the palatial building (Mazar's excavation) was found in an attached room (and not in an original part of the building) - as is now clearly shown by Mazar in her preliminary study (Shalem Center 2007) - and as the original floors of the 'palace' were removed during the Hellenistic period, the only way to accurately date the palace can be through the stepped structure, which really originated in the Iron Age IA period, as both Cahill and Steiner have cogently argued, based on pottery underneath and in the structure.

So what are we looking for if we look for 10th cent. BC 'Davidic/Solomonic' architecture?

Me too I disagree with the minimalist position that Jerusalem was only a cow town at that time.

But if Iron Age IA is lowered by 100-200 years (as I have argued elsewhere) then this is the Davidic/Solomonic horizon we are really looking for.

So yes both Cahill and the low chronologists are somehow right and wrong.

Peter van der Veen PhD

Peter said...

Dear George,

Now knowing much better what actually Jane Cahill said in her ASOR 2007 lecture, I can reiterate more forcefully what I said in my previous post. Like me, Ms Cahill indeed agrees with Eilat Mazar's recent conclusions that both the Stepped Stone Structure (including its underlying terrace courses!) + the Palatial Stone structure up hill were part of one single building event. Unlike Eilat Mazar, however, we both agree that they were built in the 12th cent. BC (i.e. in the transiditory phase between Late Bronze Age II and Iron Age I) and not in the 10th cent. BC, i.e. according to the traditional chronology. Unlike Ms Cahill, however, I do believe that both buildings could have been erected during the United Monarchy period in the 10th cent. BC, as I (along with a group of colleagues) suggest a revision of the archaeological dates by as many as 150-200 (+?) years. To cut things short, whereas Cahill believes that both impressive monuments were only reused during the days of David and Solomon. She argues that many features of Jebusite Jerusalem were retained to which new elements were added. The new elements included according to her the dismantlement of the Stepped Structure for new houses to be built on the easter slope. This is precisely where Cahill and I would disagree. I believe with many others that the Stepped Structure was Solomon's Millo and hence the dismantlement (during the early phase of Iron Age IIA) cannot have occured at the time of Solomon but must have occured later (9th cent. BC?). Hopefully this will stir a friendly and openminded discussion.

Best wishes