A 1,500-year-old marble slab found on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee Wednesday provides the first real proof of ancient Jewish settlement in the area, archaeologists say. The large slab, which bears an Aramaic inscription in Hebrew script, was dug up on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday as part of an ongoing excavation in the ancient town of Kursi.
Experts say the slab probably dates to around 500 C.E., when the Hebrew alphabet was used by Jews and some local Christian communities. This suggest that Kursi was either a Jewish community or a mixed Christian-Jewish settlement. Researchers could only discern two words: “Amen” and “Marmaria,” the latter possibly referring to Jesus’ mother, Mary.
Take the sensational claims with a grain of salt. There needs to be a much more thorough study of this inscription before jumping to conclusions. The rest of the article can be found here:
Update: From what I can see, it truly is in Galilean Aramaic. The orthography is what I’d expect to see (the plene spelling in words like סייע [“helps”] and use of ה for final a vowels like what looks like אתרה [“the synagogue” or “the place”] and יקרה ד [“the honor of”]). Unfortunately, it’s so cracked and crumbling it’s hard to make out full sentences. I’m really looking forward to seeing some better pictures. 🙂
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has announced a series of discoveries of historical interest made over the last year at sites across the country.
An annual report from the SCTA’s Antiquities and Museums Research Center said explorations by a joint Saudi-German team of archeologists at the site of a village in the Tayma region of Tabuk uncovered Aramaic engravings and earthenware pots decorated in the style of similar artifacts found in Madina and usually dated to the second millennium BC.
Also in Tabuk, in the area of Kilwa, a Saudi-French team found a number of rock drawings of humans and animals, as well as engravings in the Thamudic script from pre-Islamic times. In Jarash in Ahad Rufaidah in the province of Asir, Saudi archeologists uncovered a stone town fort and containers of various types, segments of baked brick, and other artifacts from different layers of the earth dating to different periods from before Islam to both early and late Islamic times. Also found at the site were several drawings and engravings, one of the most prominent being the image of a lion killing a bull.
At Najran’s Al-Akhdoud site, a Saudi team uncovered an earthen pot containing metal coins and rings, as well as stones bearing engravings in the South Arabian Musnad script.
Surveys and digs were also conducted at Al-Ghat and Al-Quwaira in Riyadh, with findings including engravings and rock drawings, as well as in Mada’in Saleh and the Eastern Province.
The SCTA report added that a Saudi-British team conducted an archeological survey of Juba in Hail, taking aerial photographs of sites with engravings and rock drawings.
SCTA vice president Ali Al-Ghabban said the commission currently had a range of archeological digs on the go.
“The second millennium BCE sounds early for Aramaic inscriptions. If the date is accurate, this would be an extremely important find. I would guess the first half of the first millennium or later to be a more likely date. Perhaps there is an error here or perhaps the pottery and the inscriptions are from different strata.”
I hope to see some pictures of these finds in the news some time soon so we can all take a peek. 🙂
New technologies and academic collaborations are helping scholars at the University of Chicago analyze hundreds of ancient documents in Aramaic, one of the Middle East’s oldest continuously spoken and written languages.
Members of the West Semitic Research Project at the University of Southern California are helping the University’s Oriental Institute make very high-quality electronic images of nearly 700 Aramaic administrative documents. The Aramaic texts were incised in the surfaces of clay tablets with styluses or inked on the tablets with brushes or pens. Some tablets have both incised and inked texts.
An agreement struck between the Tiberias Magistrate’s Court and a Tzipori land-owner on Monday will allow the excavation of a tomb that may contain the remains of famed 3rd century Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi to begin next month.
This grave in Tzipori may contain the remains of third century Rabbi Yehoshua neb Levi. Photo: Josiah Daniel Ryan
The work at the site, which features a clear inscription of the rabbi’s name on the lintel and reportedly contains a terra cotta sarcophagus, may trigger significant opposition throughout the religious community, experts and religious authorities said on Tuesday.
“This is an important site,” Antiquities Authority director Dr. Uzi Dahari, who personally holds the license to the dig, told The Jerusalem Post after the court’s decision. “We don’t know what’s in there yet, but it could be very, very, significant. It may be Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, but it’s impossible to know for sure until we dig.”
In the wee hours of the night, refusing sleep, after translating and typesetting (both sloppliy), cutting and crinkling, the “artifact” was born:
The “ancient” document, itself, is a birth certificate for Barack Obama, placing his point of origin in Babylon at around 516-515 BCE.
Originally, I planned on sending a copy of it hand-inked on actual papyrus to the President, himself as a belated birthday gift, along with a cover letter explaining everything that went into it… but I figured that it might not be in good taste… (and at the same time might get me on some lists… or not but who knows? If there are I’m probably already on them. 🙂 ).
In either case, I hesitated and decided to share it on here with everyone else instead, so that ancient language buffs may enjoy a bit of a chuckle.
(Incidentally, if you’re interested in a copy of it, send me an email.)