Sunday, July 29, 2018

Older Hole Holders

The Incisions page of the LMLK Research Website lists 4 handles bearing Hole Marks. Interestingly, they represent 4 of the 5 series of seal designs (x4C, x4L, x2D, x2T). 3 of them were from formal excavations, while 1 is in my unprovenanced collection. Here's a descriptive paragraph from p. 96 of my 2004 Lv1 book:

"The 4 specimens listed below have marks resembling the anchor holes of Concentric Circles but there's no indication that the circles were attempted. They may just be craters formed during firing by a large, round grit that fell out afterwards, or they may be damage caused during excavation; I include them here in case they carried some symbolic meaning. The Hole of Lachish ID# 11207/1 resembles the crater made during the chemical analysis performed in 1984 (I observed this on the Mizpah donor handles at the Bade Institute), & it was included in that study but the scientists noted the dot in their report so it's unlikely that it was made by them. Aside from comments about the Lachish specimen, nobody else has said much about these so curators & collectors need to re-examine the corpus for additional specimens."

Last week I received the latest issues of MAARAV & PEQ. The former contains interesting articles (accompanied by excellent photos) about the inscribed bowl from Qubur al-Walaydah, Aramaic ostraca from Idumea, Ammonite ostraca, & multimodality of the monumental Ekron & Tel Dan stelae. The latter contains an even more interesting one on jar-handles with hole marks found at Tell Sufan in Nablus, Palestine. Here's the descriptive paragraph spanning pp. 153-4 by authors, Loay Abu Alsaud & Amer Qobbaj:

"Two handle fragments found at Tell Sufan, one with an incision between two horizontally placed holes and the other with two vertically placed holes, resemble handles from Tell Shiloh, which is located between Nablus and Ramallah. Handles with holes are first seen at the beginning of the twelfth century BC and continue to appear into the tenth century BC and perhaps even later: Giloh, Mt. Ebal, Taanach IA, Taanach IIB, Megiddo V. It is not possible to determine whether the holes had administrative significance, or were purely for decorative purposes, until more examples of complete vessels come to light."

The authors did not explicitly mention what's obvious in the photos, which is that one handle's marks are near the top of the loop, while the other handle's are near the bottom. Although the Lachish H4L's hole is also near its bottom, the holes on the other 3 LMLKs are over their mid-loop stamps.

The article's abstract notes that this pottery was excavated in 1999 & campaigns spanning 2013-16. Furthermore, "[T]his ancient pottery has never previously been the subject of research nor has any literature been published on it."

The handle with an incision between the holes resembles neither a Drag Mark nor a Plus Mark seen on LMLKs. Likewise, all 4 LMLKs bear single holes, whereas both of the Sufan handles bear pairs. So it's safe to say these series of incisions are completely unrelated, but very interesting.

G.M. Grena

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