Monday, May 20, 2013

Seeing Stars

Title & abstract from the freshly pressed Tel Aviv vol. 40 #1 (pp. 99-116):

"The yrslm Stamp Impressions on Jar Handles: Distribution, Chronology, Iconography and Function" by Efrat Bocher and Oded Lipschits.

"The yrslm stamp impressions are the final link in a long chain of a Judahite-Yehudite-Judean administrative tradition of stamping handles or bodies of storage jars. With its cessation, the system that functioned for 600 years under Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Ptolemaic and Seleucid rule from the 8th century BCE through to the establishment of the Hasmonean kingdom, fell into obsolescence. This paper presents an updated corpus of the yrslm stamped jar handles. The authors discuss the following issues: distribution and chronology of the finds; their connection to the late yhwd stamp impressions; the reason why the administrative system in Judea began using iconographic symbols hundreds of years after employing only script on the stamped jar system; the meaning of the pentagram symbol utilized in these seals; and the function of the stamping system in the Hasmonean kingdom in the 2nd century BCE."

Of particular interest for self-flattering reasons, is this sentence & accompanying footnote straddling pp. 99-100:

"The Judahite tradition of stamping or incising jar handles began with the early lmlk stamp impressions at the end of the 8th century BCE. It was followed by the late lmlk stamp impressions in the early 7th century; the incised concentric circles in the mid-7th century; and the rosette stamp impressions at the end of the 7th and the early 6th centuries BCE (Lipschits, Sergi and Koch 2010; 2011; Koch and Lipschits 2010).^1"

"^1 The division between “before Sennacherib” and “after-Sennacherib” lmlk stamp impressions had already been suggested by Grena (2004: 337), based on 13 lmlk jar handles from 7th century “Babylonian Attack” strata in Jerusalem, Arad, Lachish, Timna and Horvat Shilha. See Ussishkin 2011 contra this division, but see Lipschits 2012 in response, and cf. Finkelstein 2012."

Nice!  (Even with the Timna[h] typo!)  Some people would climb the highest mountain to get referenced in such a prestigious journal! (Figuratively speaking of course...)

G.M. Grena

Sunday, May 12, 2013

PE Participant Predating PEQ

"Give My Best Love to dear Mother..."

By sheer coincidence, here comes another blog entry pertaining to PEQ. Last time the focus was on the Q; this time the focus is on the "Palestine Exploration" by a member of the original expedition! Instead of waiting till its 145th anniversary in a couple of weeks, I decided to post this today, Mother's Day, in light of the quotation above.

For $1,750 you can own a letter written by Corporal J.A. Hanson on May 31st, 1868 to his "Dear and Affectionate Parents" (as described below by Eric Peter Waschke in his May 2013 catalog for The Wayfarer's Bookshop in Canada):

"Jerusalem, Palestine, 31 May 1868. Quarto (ca. 26,5x21 cm). 4 pp. Brown ink on paper. 105 lines of text, clear and complete. Paper aged and sometimes mildly worn on folds, otherwise a very good letter."

"Important eye witness account of the first major excavation of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount undertaken in 1867-1870 by Captain Charles Warren (1840-1927) on assignment of the Palestine Exploration Fund. This is a private letter by a member of the excavation party Lance Corporal J. Hanson who was mentioned in Warren's account of the mission "The recovery of Jerusalem: a narrative of exploration and discovery in the city and the Holy Land" (New York, 1871). The letter is semi-literate, and all quotations are given according to the original."

"First of all, Hanson witnesses the troubles caused to the Warren's party by the Muslim Governor of Jerusalem who often stopped the excavations. The permission letter from Constantinople authorized Warren 'to excavate anywhere, except in the Haram Area, and sites sacred to Christians and Moslems' (See: "Our work in Palestine: an account of the different expeditions sent out to the Holy land by the committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund"; London, 1873, p. 97), which in fact didn't allow any works on the Temple Mount (Haram Ash-Sharif). Hanson reports that Warren had embarked for England 'also to make a complant against the Governor, the Pasha of this City who is interfering with our Excavations without us Giveing Him Any couse whatsowever. He couse us a very great del of trouble in trying to stop our works [...] I trust he [Warren] will gain us permit, that is the Palestine Exploration Fun is atplieing to Constantinoble for permission from the Sulton to proceed further in our Excavation within the Walls of this Holy City.' Hanson gives very interesting notes about the progress of the excavation: 'I am now excavatin to the west of mount Sion and also out Side of the east Walles of the City. I have found a great number of peaces of Pottery also carved Stones Marble Glass of all colors also a number of ancient Monny &c. Those ar found at the depth of 60 feet and apward and at this depth from the Surface it is very dangerious Work.' Hanson reports that he is excavating 'the ancion wall of the city of Jerusalem [...] with 40 [or 70?] Laborers', many of whom he has lost to 'the ferver'. He also notes that he has 'dellings with a great Number of Criston Jews' and has them employed 'as overseers on the works'."

"Hanson vividly describes the new harvest in Jerusalem: 'Ere this Avineyard is looking most Magnificence also the apricots Trees this Fruit is very plentifull in Palestine you can by apricots 14lb. For one penny very fine the Figs also is very fine. Vegtable-Marrow and cucumbers come into this City in cartlodes from Jaffa, and the surrounding Villigis.' He mentions a 'Great fested with the Jewes of all nacsions in this City on the 27th. Of this Month', complains about the heat, and bright sun in Jerusalem, so strong that there are 'a very great number of people of all nactions totally Blind in this city'; as well as about 'confounded Miscakco' [moscitos?] who 'bit very hard'. Overall a very interesting historical document adding nice details to the history of the first major excavation in Jerusalem."

If this had been priced at $750, I probably would've bought it since there's an extremely slim chance that Corp. Hanson might have been the person who found the first LMLK handle, which probably occurred later in the year at a lower depth. Then again, he might have unwittingly found an otherwise-undocumented one among his "great number of peaces of Pottery".

Note that the 2nd PEQ (April 1 to June 30, 1869; p. 49, 4th May 1869 committee report) mentions that Hanson had been sent home by Lieutenant Warren, & another corporal (Duncan) had died in August, 1868. Maybe Hanson also became sick from the hard mosquito bites. Then again, maybe Warren saw some of Hanson's horrendous English misspellings & dismissed him for embarrassing the British.

G.M. Grena

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Putting the Q Back in PEQ

The latest PEQ (Volume 145, Number 1, March 2013) arrived this past week, celebrating its return to being quarterly rather than bi-annually, tri-annually, or whenever-we-can-ally.

I knew something was different because until now, it had arrived in a light-blue wrapper, but now it's light-yellow. The publisher also decided to put the well-known (from many other PEF publications) drawing of Warren's 80-foot "tourist elevator" drawing on the cover, which includes the cute little guys with torches analyzing the large alphabetic inscription at the underground Temple Mount wall.

Indirect LMLK content:


"At Ain Shems (Beth-Shemesh) in 1911‐1912, Duncan Mackenzie exposed a massive city wall and its ‘South Gate’. Mackenzie published only a schematic plan of the gate, which he dated back to the ‘Canaanite period’, and covered it at the end of his work. The gate comprises one of the finest examples of Middle Bronze city gates known from the Land of Israel, yet its asymmetrical plan and final date of use remained a puzzle for almost a century. Combining archaeological clues on the ground with a study of Mackenzie's unpublished documents in the PEF archive, the authors' renewed excavations at Tel Beth-Shemesh, located the hidden ‘South Gate’ and exposed it anew. The new excavation revealed unknown details about the gate's plan and determined Late Bronze IIA as the terminus ad quem for its function as a gate. A reassessment of the ‘South Gate’ architecture, roofing, and system of closure provides new insights concerning its daily functioning, and raises doubts about the conventional uniform reconstruction of known MB gates. The role of Beth-Shemesh as a fortified MBIIB-C city in the northern Shephelah is discussed vis-à-vis its neighbouring sites: Tel Batash, Tel Miqne, and Gezer. "


"The scarab impression on the rim of a Middle Bronze II storage jar is the first of its kind to be discovered in Israel. The pattern on the impression appears on scarabs of the period. The unusual location of the impression may point to a special content of the jar, or alternatively to the owner of this pot. Once the context of the storage jar rim is studied, it may shed some light on the possible association of this jar with the scarab impression on its rim. "


"A carnelian pebble stamp seal excavated by Macalister at Gezer and believed lost, and a seal kept today in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, are one and the same. A cast of the original kept by the Palestine Exploration Fund in London proves to be identical to the seal in Jerusalem. The unique iconography of the seal showing a man in a cultic gesture in front of a griffin, as well as its stylistic details, show it to be an Assyrianized product of the late eighth or seventh century bc, possibly of local production."

The iconography, which includes an x2x, is not unique. The guy engraved on the seal looks like he was listening to this excellent HS song:

G.M. Grena