Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shooting Sennacherib

On June 14th Lisa Söderlindh reported for the Assyrian International News Agency that some of Sennacherib's reliefs were being vandalized, in particular, the Khinnis site in northern Iraq where bullet holes indicate that they've been used for target practice.

According to Michael Youash of the Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, "this is not just a world heritage site--it tells us who we are, reminds us of where we are from, & what our place in history has been."

Here's a quick review of who Sennacherib was according to his own record of history (the Chicago prism):

"In my 1st campaign ...
I cut down with the sword. No one escaped.
Their corpses I hung on stakes ...

In my 2nd campaign ...
their small cities,
which were beyond numbering I destroyed,
I devastated, & I turned into ruins.
The houses ... I set on fire
& turned them into flames. ...
I besieged, I captured, I destroyed,
I devastated, I burned with fire. ...

In my 4th campaign ...
That Merodach-baladan ... I turned about
& ruined & devastated his cities;
I made them like ruin-heaps. ...

In my 5th campaign ...
I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire. ...
I destroyed, I devastated, & I burned with fire.

In my 6th campaign ...
The cities that were in those provinces
I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire.
Into tells & ruins I turned them. ...

In my 7th campaign ...
I besieged, I conquered, I despoiled,
I destroyed, I devastated, I burned with fire,
with the smoke of their conflagration
I covered the wide heavens like a hurricane. ...

In my 8th campaign ...
I decimated the enemy host with arrow & spear.
I bored through all of their bodies. ...
quickly I cut them down & defeated them.
I cut their throats,
& I cut off their precious lives like a string.
Like the many waters of a storm,
I made their gullets &
entrails run down upon the wide earth. ...
The wheels of my war chariot, ...
were spattered with blood & filth.
With the bodies of their warriors
I filled the plain like grass.
Their testicles I cut off &
tore out their privates ...
I cut off their hands.

Oh, & as for Hezekiah the Judahite & his petty little village of Jerusalem in my 3rd campaign, boy I really showed him who's da man--I kept him in Jerusalem like a bird in a cage! I marched back home proudly & lived happily ever after. Forget about Hezekiah--he & his god will never be remembered in any history books. Here, let me show you how we kicked ass at Lachish..."

So my response to modern Assyrians complaining about the destruction of their cultural heritage? Same as Ann Coulter's response this week to the arguments of her opponents: "Waaaaaaaaaah! Boo hoo hoo!"

Song of the week: "Never Mind the Why & Wherefore" by Gilbert & Sullivan (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 27-second sample; 328kb).
G.M. Grena

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Smashed, Salvaged, & Sixty

No new post last week for 2 reasons:

1) The last one merited an extended stay on the home page.
2) Last week I set up another LMLK account at Wordpress.

Beginning now, I'm planning to post the same message on both sites in case one goes down (you never know when it'll happen).

This week I'm merely relaying recent royal news items:

A neat seque from the previous message about 2 intact LMLK jars--This week the UK's Daily Record reported that a modern potter lost her entire collection after tripping over & smashing it 3 days before it was due to go on show!

A week ago, Lewis Smith reported in the UK's Times Online that sections of the King’s Table, a symbol of royal power until it was smashed by Oliver Cromwell, have been found beneath the floor of the Palace of Westminster.

And on Monday this week, Grant Peck reported in the Associated Press that the world's longest-reigning monarch celebrated his 60th anniversary on the throne this week: King Bhumibol Adulyadej, of Thailand!

Song of the week: "So Many Things" by Sarah Brightman (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 30-second sample; 369kb).
G.M. Grena

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Intact Jars--Watch Your Mouths!

This week Dr. Jim West completely-out-of-the-blue without being prompted-like-a-puppet by anyone behind-the-scenes posted a message questioning how the only-known intact Type 484 jar with an H4L impression came to leave Israel (owned by Harvey Herbert, on display at The Living Torah Museum).

Charles Halton quickly questioned the jar's authenticity, but Yakov Ben-Josef redirected the focus on its export. Here's a link to the original series of messages.

Since I was not involved in the jar's export, I redirected the focus towards the legitimacy of the post-fired inscription on another intact T484, originally published by Robert Deutsch & Michael Heltzer in their 1997 book, "Windows to the Past" (item #112.5; pp. 65-7), at which time it belonged to Oded Golan (presently on trial with Deutsch for allegedly conducting illegal activities with antiquities--that's the most generic, impartial way of describing the indictment).

Then Ben-Josef threw everyone a curve ball by claiming that these were 1-&-the-same jar, primarily based on a line running vertically from the middle to the bottom of both jars. So let's compare them:

Here's a photo of the Golan jar marked up in bright green to highlight its prominent features:

G1) The mouth's outline.

G2) The LMLK inscription across the shoulder area.

G3) A diagonal line above the central handle.

G4) The vertical line in question.

G5) Five prominent discoloration zones--3 light, 2 dark.

Next, we'll look at the Herbert jar with similar markups in dark blue:

H1) The mouth's outline.

H2) A prominent dark discoloration zone.

H3) The LMLK stamp on the handle.

H4) The vertical line in question (with the approximate location of the Golan jar's vertical line for comparison).

Unmarked photos are available on the LMLK Research website: The Golan jar & The Herbert jar. You'll notice that the Herbert photos differ slightly because here I'm using one where the camera lens was more level with the jar so the mouth is not as distorted. Both photos are courtesy of Rabbi Shaul Shimon Deutsch (LTM curator in New York; no familial relation to Robert Deutsch, scholar in Israel).

Points that prove Yakov Ben-Josef is quite mistaken in his allegation:

P1) None of the prominent discoloration zones match. These are caused by processes such as clay-content, firing, cleaning, etc.

P2) Notice that the vertical lines don't start in the same place, don't travel the same course, & don't end in the same place.

P3) I can tell you from examining a 2-Megabyte hi-res version of the Herbert jar that there is absolutely no trace of the diagonal line seen above the handle on the Golan jar in 1997--the wheel-turning rings are undisturbed. If a restorer were good enough at hiding the diagonal line, why did he/she not do likewise on the long vertical line?

P4) The Herbert jar has a pre-fired seal impression on its front handle & no inscription on its shoulder; the Golan jar has a post-firing inscription carved on its shoulder & no seal impression on its front handle. To suggest that Deutsch &/or Heltzer could've overlooked the stamp is absurd. To suggest that someone carved the impression since 1997 is equally absurd. Why would they have made a poor version of a common impression on only one of its 4 handles, & upside-down at that?!! (Its orientation is 5:30 according to the classification system I developed for the website.)

P5) The necks of the mouths were constructed with completely different slopes. Here's a photo showing them side-by-side:

Song of the week: "Conversation Piece" by Savatage (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 29-second sample; 349kb).

G.M. Grena

P.S. After I posted this message last night, Rabbi Deutsch informed me of the following additional points:

P6) The Golan jar was described by Heltzer & Deutsch as being 58cm tall, while the Herbert jar is 64cm.

P7) The vertical line on the Herbert jar is an illusion caused by the camera lens; there is no such line on the actual jar.

As for the jar's authenticity, it has been inspected closely by Dr. Gabriel Barkay, Dr. Eric Myers, David Hendin, & Lenny Wolfe. In their opinion, it's ancient.

As for the export legitimacy, Rabbi Deutsch said, "The Lmlk jar left Israel with a Permit from the IAA."

Remember, this is a rabbi--everything in his museum is kosher! They do not even have any replicas of famous artifacts seen in other museums, such as the Siloam inscription, Taylor prism, Tel Dan stela, etc.