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Phoenician Origin

Phoenician Glyphs
Earliest Greek Inscriptions
Greek Adaptation
Phoenician-Greek Contact
"Phoenician" Script
Old Aramaic
Table of Canaanite and Aramaic Inscriptions
Phoenician Inscriptions
Hebrew Inscriptions
Moabite Inscriptions
Ammonite Inscriptions
Edomite Inscriptions
Philistine Inscriptions
Deir Allah Inscription
Aramaic Inscriptions
Sam’al Inscriptions
Cilicia Inscriptions

Phoenician Glyphs

The Greek alphabet was adapted from the older Phoenician alphabet* ca. late 9th - early 8th century BCE. Compare, for example, the glyphs in the archaic Greek Fayum alphabet to their Phoenician equivalents, and the inclusion of wau (Ϝ), san (Ϻ), and koppa (Ϙ).


Greek Fayum Alphabet


Phoenician Jehoash Tablet

* The first alphabetic script in Greece developed in the late ninth or early eighth century BC, forming the Hellenic alphabet. The great majority of the signs of this alphabet were adopted from the Phoenician script, a West Semitic consonantal syllabary, which was probably developed in ca. 1000 BC.1 [According to Herodotus,] at first they used the same characters as all the other Phoenicians, but as time went on, and they changed their language, they also changed the shape of their letters. At that period most of the Greeks in the neighbourhood were Ionians; they were taught these letters by the Phoenicians and adopted them, with a few alterations, for their own use, continuing to refer to them as the Phoenician characters.2

† Jehoash...

1. Note:, The Controversy: Who invented the alphabet, the Phoenicians or the Greeks? (accessed ...).

2. Ibid.

Jehoash Tablet

Jehoash Inscription or forgery, a 9th century BCE "temple tablet" written in Phoenician script purportedly from the time of Jewish King Joash and unearthed during renovations on Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

* Jehoash Tablet (9th century BCE Phoenician)
'Biblical Temple' tablet found
Report on the Temple Tablet: As a script is bound to identity, a change of official script follows every time there is a change of power structure. The Sumerians had their own script design; when Sargon I conquered Sumer and created the combined Kingdom of Sumer and Akkad, a new official script appears. Likewise, when Akkad was conquered in turn, we find another new official script.14 This change of script with change of power remained true down the centuries, long after the printing press came on the scene. At no period in the history of writing would a King of X use the script of the King of Y in a document issued in his voice. 15 Script equals identity. also: There are only two script class models for Hebrew fonts: Hebraeo-Phoenician (called"Paleo-Hebraic") and Square Script. and: Malto-Phoenician dates to the 12th-11th centuries, Amurro-Phoenician to the 12th-11th, Sardo-Phoenician to the 10th, Etruro-Phoenician dates to ca. the 10th-9th, as does Arameo-Phoenician. Moabeo-Phoenician and Hebraeo-Phoenician fall somewhere within this time frame.
Don’t Rush to Judgment also: But what do we really know about the Hebrew of official royal inscriptions of Judah in the ninth to eighth centuries B.C.E.? The answer is rather simple: not much. To say, therefore, that the language of the Jehoash inscription is inconsistent with what we would expect of such a royal inscription from the time of Jehoash is to assert an authority that is not merely audacious, but imaginative.
Haaretz There is nothing else like it: the text is very similar in the form of the letters and in style to the Mesha inscription. Doubters will say: `This bride is too beautiful,' and will suspect a forgery. `This man,' they will say to themselves, `may have seen the Mesha Stele, forged the inscription according to the style of the Mesha stone, and even made sure to suit its contents to what is written in the Tanakh.' I have to say in their favor that the similarity to the Mesha Stele is in fact suspicious." Suspicion of everything related to the Mesha Stele is so great because immediately after its discovery, all kinds of archaeological forgeries reached the market, pretending to be Moabite antiquities.
A “post-mortem” on the so-called “Jehoash Inscription”

Earliest Greek Inscriptions

The two oldest known Greek inscriptions, both of which are vessel graffiti, show vestiges of the Greek alphabet's Phoenician lineage.

Dipylon Oinochoe Graffito (8th Century BCE, ca. 740 BCE)

The Dipylon Oinochoe Inscription is etched into an oinochoe, or wine-pourer, found in a tomb in the Kerameikos cemetery located near the Dipylon gate in Athens. Note the word παίζει, spelled ΠΑZIΕZ with reverse 'Z'-shaped iota and I-shaped zeta and the Phoenician glyphs for alpha 𐤀 and pi 𐤐.

Dipylon Oinochoe | Natalia Elvira Astoreca

Dipylon Oinochoe; Natalia Elvira Astoreca. Source: CREWS Project.1

Dipylon Oinochoe Graffito | Wakantanka

Dipylon Oinochoe Graffito; Wakantanka. Source: Wikimedia Commons.2

Who now of all dancers [ὃς (οἳ?) νῦν ὀρχηστῶν πάντων]
most gleefully (frolickingly/carefree-ly) [ἀταλώτατα (most ἀταλός)]** amuses (plays/performs) [παίζει]††,
to him [τῷ] this (indecipherable; presumably the jug, meaning the contents of the jug) [τόδε ΚΛΜΙΝ (κάλπιν?)].

* The sigma in ὃς is reverse 'Z'-shaped like the iotas in παίζει, unlike the 'Z'-shaped sigma in ὀρχηστῶν.

Filos: The exact interpretation of the inscription is unclear because of the heavily truncated second line, which has given rise to numerous readings by scholars.... However, it is clear that the text marks the vessel as a prize in a dancing competition. ... One can note similar Homer: e.g. hoppóterós ke phthêisin... tôi mèn egṑ dṓsō tóde phásganon ‘Whoever comes him I shall give this sword’ (Il. 23.805-807).3

Filos: The second line is hardly comprehensible.... One may read a totoḍe here, namely a later Attic toû tóde or (less likely) toútou dḗ ‘of/to him (this) [sc. vessel]’, followed perhaps by kalmin (= kálpin) (vase type) or an (unattested) diminutive (: colloquial-‘affectionate’) neut. sg. kalpídion..., or something of this sort....4

§ Binek: (p.425) There is general consensus about the reading of the oinochoe’s first 35 signs as letters that together form a perfect hexameter: ὃς νῦν ὀρχηστῶν πάντων ἀταλώτατα παίζει (“whoever of all the dancers now frolics most friskily/delicately”). This agreement, however, breaks down in the context of what remains.... A multitude of different readings have emerged since 1880, and all require problematic concessions. For instance, an 1893 reading by Studniczka...interprets what follows the hexameter as τοῦτο δεκᾶν μιν—“let him accept this.” ... Studniczka’s reading of τοῦτο δεκᾶν μιν further requires the acceptance of an otherwise unattested verb, δεκάω, interpreted as a variant of δέχομαι. ... The extreme difficulty of reading signs 43, 44, and 46 [Λ, Μ, and Ν] is acknowledged by Powell, who concludes that, individually, 43 and 44 are “not explicable,” and 46 is “a hopeless botch . . . which is incapable of being read by anyone.” ... Powell and Jeffery propose that this [beyond sign 42] is the point where we should in fact stop reading..... Moreover, Powell has shown that we need not look further than sign 41 for a completeness of meaning; he proposes reading 36–41 as letters constituting the words το͂ (= τοῦ) τόδε, so that the full text becomes “this thing [i.e., the jug] belongs to him, whoever of all the dancers now frolics most delicately.” ... Both Jeffery and Powell postulate that a second individual picked up and continued the incising after the full hexameter.5

** Cullhed: (p. 2. THE MEANING OF ΑΤΑΛΟΣ) The inscription indicates that the wine jug served as a trophy for the winner of a dance competition. ... What can this artefact reveal about the nature of the dancing that it commemorates? ... [T]he answer hinges primarily on our interpretation of a single word in the inscription, namely ἀταλṓτατα. ... Many scholars have translated the inscription as a claim that the prize belongs to the dancer who performs 'most gracefully' or 'most elegantly'. ... The adjective ἀταλός, on the other hand, is typically applied to young animals or children in the Greek sources. ... In Homer and Hesiod, ἀτάλλω denotes the frolicking of animals and children....6

†† Banchich: [The vase] is certainly our first written dactylic hexameter, the epic meter of the Iliad and Odyssey, comprising a combination of five dactyls (a long syllable followed by two short syllables) or spondees (two long syllables) capped by a sixth unit of two syllables.... For preliterate Greeks, these beats helped preserve in song the memory of the memorable. ...[T]he content of the inscription preserves the first known instance of a Greek interest in playfulness. ... “His this” [“Who now of all dancers most friskily frolics, his this. . . .”] begins a second hexameter but after “this” (i.e., the vase) the inscription becomes what looks to be a nonsensical series of practice letters. “Dancers” is an unproblematic rendering of orchēstōn, a form of the Greek orchēstēs. The word paizei...often means “dance,” but here is translated as “frolics” to distinguish it from orchēstōn. Though paizein may mean “to play” in general terms, orchēstōn makes it obvious that the inscription’s paizei denotes dance. ... [A]talos, the basis of the superlative adverb atalota,...regularly signifies the distinctive spiritedness, the playfulness, of children or youths. ... [T]he text...proclaims...that the vessel will be a prize for one of those who now dance. But dance where? ... [T]he vase’s precise function as a bearer of wine points...toward that social gathering of Greek males that revolved around the drinking of wine: the symposium. ... Those who chose to dance...would become competitors in a playful competition.... ... [A]s the contestants took the floor sequentially or as a group, all knew that perceptions of playfulness prompted by their dance...would determine the winner. ... All involved would have expected at least an appearance of spontaneity—and of something they would have recognized and felt to be fun, too. The playful actions of the participants would have drawn attention to themselves the arbiter of playfulness...just, as in such contests today, judges, no matter what their demeanor or deportment, often share the spotlight with contestants or sometimes even steal it from them. Whatever the specifics of this process, a broader spirit of playfulness would have imbued all present.7

   Eberle: “Play,” paidia in ancient Greek, is one of those problematic concepts that shakes our confidence in discovering meaning across a long stretch of time. ... In a recent special issue of the American Journal of Play several classicists and historians agreed to take on the thought-provoking task of understanding play in ancient Greece and Rome. One of them, Thomas Banchich, who was trained in classical languages and philosophy, meticulously sought the Greek concept of play by starting a long way from written sources. Banchich looked at the raucous pictures—drinking-party scenes—that ancient ceramicists fired in to the inside bottoms of drinking vessels. Typically, images like these pictured a partier, “overindulged and wobbly-kneed,” as Banchich puts it, throwing up at the feet of an attractive, enabling young woman. ... The drinker would see these ribald scenes...revealed only when he emptied the cup. ... The ancient cups pointed to the expectation that a party of a certain kind, a bacchanal with rules and performances, was expected to end in comical vomiting and stupor. ... Do not mistake the Greek symposia for the serene academic gatherings of today. Symposia were part talent show, part staged competition of poetry reciting, music, and other performances, and part toga-party where, as Banchich concludes, a “gross and edgy playfulness” prevailed among the symposiasts. Much as...Bacchus would possess the drunkard at a bacchanalia, the embodiment of the spirit of play, personified in the form of the goddess Paidia, would wield her influence at a Symposium and rule the evening’s disorderly proceedings.8

1. Image: Natalia Elvira Astoreca, Introduction: Natalia Elvira Astoreca, CREWS Project, 24 October 2016, (accessed ...), Dipylon Oinochoe, 8th century B.C. (Photo taken by author).

2. Image: Wakantanka, Transcription of the Dipylon Oinochoe Inscription, Wikimedia Commons, 15 April 2018, (accessed ...).

3. Note: Panagiotis Filos, Dipylon Vase Inscription, in Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, ed. Georgios K. Giannakis et al. (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2014), [pp. 499-501] (accessed ...), pp. 499-500.

4. Ibid., p. 500.

5. Note: Natasha M. Binek, The Dipylon Oinochoe Graffito: Text or Decoration? Hesperia 86 (2017), [pp. 423–442] (accessed ...), pp. 425-427.

6. Note: Eric Cullhed, The Dipylon Oinochoê and Ancient Greek Dance Aesthetics, Final, Unedited Manuscript in Press at Classical Quarterly,ê_and_Ancient_Greek_Dance_Aesthetics (accessed ...).

7. Note: Thomas Banchich, A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl? Perceptions of Playfulness in Archaic and Classical Greece, American Journal of Play 9:3 (Spring 2017), [pp. 323-340] (accessed ...), pp. 324-325.

8. Note: Scott G. Eberle, A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl: Who’s laughing? And when? And at what? Psychology Today , 09 Apr 2018, (accessed ...).

Pithekoussai Nestor's Cup Graffito (8th Century BCE, ca. 750-700 BCE)

The equal-or-slightly-younger Pithekoussai Nestor's Cup, etched in Euboean* script, is a kotyle, a drinking cup, found in a grave at the site of the Greek colony of Pithekoussai on the Italian island of Ischia. Note the Phoenician-shaped glyph for mu 𐤌 in ἵμερος, spelled 𐌇Ι𐌌ΕΡΟΣ.

Nestor's Cup | Marcus Cyron

Nestor's Cup; Marcus Cyron. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Nestor's Cup Graffito | Jasper Gaunt

Nestor's Cup Graffito; Jasper Gaunt. Source: Gaunt.2

Nestor’s [Νέστορος] cup [ποτήριον] I am [εἰμὶ], good to drink from [εὔποτον]. Whoever [ὃς δ’ ἂν] drinks [πίησι] this [τοῦδε] cup [ποτηρίου] empty [κῆνον], straightaway [αὐτίκα] the desire [ἵμερος] of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite [καλλιστεφάνου§ Ἀφροδίτης] will seize [αἱρήσει].

* Wikipedia: The Euboean alphabet was used in the cities of Eretria and Chalkis and in related colonies in southern Italy, notably in Cumae and in Pithekoussai. It was through this variant that the Greek alphabet was transmitted to Italy, where it gave rise to the Old Italic alphabets.3

Wikipedia: The restoration of the second word of the inscription as ΕΡΡΟΙ was proposed by G. Buchner and C. F. Russo [in 1955] in the first publication of the inscription.4

   Gaunt: The restoration of the verb has not been agreed upon, although, as Lillian Jeffery, Martin West, Peter Hansen and Alan Johnston among others have seen, much the most likely possibility from an archaeological perspective is εἰμὶ.5

Banchich: The Pithekoussai cup’s apparent proclamation of its identity as the great “Cup of Nestor” must, given the contrast between its baseness and the grandeur of the cup of the Iliad be meant to be taken playfully, that is, as a joke. ... A modest pot claims to be the great cup of Nestor.6

   Banchich: Consideration of the sizes and shapes of the missing pieces, of the metrical requirements of lines two and three, and of formulaic parallels on later inscriptions, reduced the range of reasonable restorations to three. The following translations...reflect each of these. I. Nestor's [am I], a goblet good to drink from.... II. Of Nestor [there was a certain] globlet, good to drink from.... III. Nestor's [is] a goblet good to drink from....7

§ Gaunt: The presence of the very name Nestor adjacent to two epic hexameter lines...together with formal touches like the adjective καλλιστεφάνος for Aphrodite, furnish sufficient evidence to be confident that Nestor's Cup mentioned in the inscription can only refer to or assume knowledge of the one that is famous to us from the Illiad.8

1. Image: Marcus Cyron, Nestorbecher auf Ischia, Wikimedia Commons, 24 March 2018, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Jasper Gaunt, Chapter 6: Nestor's Cup and Its Reception, in Voice and Voices in Antiquity: Orality and Literacy in the Ancient World, vol. II, ed. Naill W. Slater (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2017), [pp. 92-120] (accessed ...), p. 95, Fig. 6.2: Inscription from fig. 6.1; After [R.] Arena (1994).

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Archaic Greek alphabets, (accessed ...), Euboean.

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Nestor's Cup (Pithekoussai), (accessed ...), Inscription.

5. Note: Gaunt, p. 96.

6. Note: Thomas Banchich, A Gag at the Bottom of a Bowl? Perceptions of Playfulness in Archaic and Classical Greece, American Journal of Play 9:3 (Spring 2017), [pp. 323-340] (accessed ...), pp. 327-328.

7. Ibid., p. 326.

8. Note: Gaunt, p. 97.

Greek Adaptation

The Phoenician and Greek alphabets are not phonetically interchangeable.

The Phoenician alphabet—like Hebrew and Arabic—is an abjad*, a consonantal alphabet having no vowels. (Phoenician and Paleo-Hebrew are in fact the same script.). The Greeks applied the Phoenician glyphs to their own phonetics, repurposed leftover letters to represent vowels, and later added additional letters.§

IPAImperial Aramaicb/
Modern Hebrewc
IPAArchaic Greekd/
Modern Greeke
𐤀Alfʾ[ʔ]𐡀אAleph[ʔ], ∅𐌀ΑAlpha[a] and [aː]
𐤁Betb[b]𐡁בBet[b] and [v]𐌁ΒBeta[b]
𐤄Heh[h]𐡄הHe[h]~[ʔ], ∅𐌄ΕEpsilon[e]
𐤅Wauw[w]𐡅וVav[v], [w]𐌅ϚWau[w]
𐤆Zaiz[z]𐡆זZayin[z]𐌆ΖZeta[zd], or possibly [dz]
𐤉Yody[j]𐡉יYod[j]𐌉ΙIota[i] and [iː]
𐤊Kafk[k]𐡊כKaf[k] and [x]~[χ]𐌊ΚKappa[k]
𐤏Ainʿ[ʕ]𐡏עAyin[ʔ], ∅𐌏ΟOmicron[o]
𐤐Pep[p]𐡐פPe[p] and [f]𐌐ΠPi[p]
𐤔Shinš[ʃ]𐡔שShin[ʃ] and [s]𐌔ΣSigma[s] and [z] before β, γ, or μ
𐌖ΥUpsilon[y] and [yː]

* Wikipedia: The name "abjad" (abjad أبجد) is derived from pronouncing the first letters of the Arabic alphabet order in the original order. The ordering (abjadī) of Arabic letters used to match that of the older Hebrew, Phoenician and Semitic alphabets: aleph, bet, gimel, dalet.1

Wikipedia: The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet ... is a variant of the Phoenician alphabet.... Archeological evidence of the use of the script by the Israelites for writing the Hebrew language dates to around the 10th century BCE. The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet began to fall out of use by the Jews in the 5th century BCE, when the Aramaic alphabet was adopted as the predominant writing system for Hebrew. The present Jewish "square-script" Hebrew alphabet evolved from the Aramaic alphabet.2

Ancient Scripts: When the Greeks adopted the alphabet, they found letters representing sounds not found in Greek. Instead of throwing them away, they modified the extraneous letters to represent vowels. For example, the Phoenician letter 'aleph (which stood for a glottal stop) became the Greek letter alpha (which stands for [a] sound).3

§ The Hellenic script evolved into a phonetic writing with the alteration of five Phoenician consonants into vowels. In addition to that, four signs were added-phi, psi, chi, and omega-to cover all the range of sounds in the Hellenic language.4

a Phoenician:
b Imperial Aramaic:
c Hebrew:
d Old Italic:
e Greek:

1. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Abjad, (accessed ...), Etymology.

2. Ibid., s.v. Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, (accessed ...), Euboean.

3. Note: Ancient Scripts, Greek, (accessed ...).

4. Note:, The Controversy: Who invented the alphabet, the Phoenicians or the Greeks? (accessed ...).

Phoenician-Greek Contact

The Phoenicians, through trade and colonization across the Mediterranean,* exposed the Greeks to the novel and innovative alphabetic principle of their writing system: a short—and appropriable—list of phonetic symbols representing language sounds (rather than language-specific words, morphemes [constituents of a word], syllables, or concepts).

Conceivably, some clever Greeks upon learning to read Phoenician and the sounds associated with each glyph began applying—perhaps on a lark at first—those glyphs to write their own language in Phoenician.

Presumably their initial impulse would have been to apply the Phoenician alphabet as an abjad, writing only the consonant sounds exactly as the Phoenicians did, e.g., γνῶσις, meaning knowledge [𐤂𐤍𐤔𐤔] (right-to-left as in the Dipylon Oinochoe and Nestor's Cup inscriptions above); but it proved impossible to adequately differentiate some words even those having opposite meanings: ἀγνωσία, meaning ignorance [𐤂𐤍𐤔].

The Greek progression of the Phoenician abjad into a true alphabet§ would have arisen out of necessity.** Repurposing unusable glyphs may have been instinctive and immediate for at least the initial vowels: 𐤂𐤍𐤔𐤔 vs. 𐤀𐤂𐤍𐤔. This in turn cracked open the door toward a fully fledged and unambiguous writing system: 𐤂𐤍o𐤔𐤉𐤔 vs. 𐤀𐤂𐤍o𐤔𐤉𐤀.

 Phoenician Settlement and Trade Routes | Encyclopedia Britannica

Phoenician Settlement and Trade Routes; Encyclopedia Britannica. Source: Britannica Kids.1

Greek and Phoenician Colonization

Greek and Phoenician Colonization. Source: the universe and man.2

* Wikipedia: At its height...Phoenician civilization spread across the Mediterranean, from Cyprus to the Iberian Peninsula. Wikipedia: By their maritime trade, the Phoenicians spread the use of the alphabet to Anatolia, North Africa, and Europe, where it was adopted by the Greeks. (Wikipedia: Concentrated along a narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Lebanon Mountains, the Phoenician economy relied heavily upon the sea for both nourishment and trade. Lacking the arable land for agriculture and the numbers to conquer or exact tribute from other territories, the Phoenician city states virtually always pursued mercantilism.) Wikipedia: The Phoenicians came to prominence following the collapse of most major cultures during the Late Bronze Age [dated 1550–1200 BCE]. Wikipedia: The half-century between ca. 1200 and 1150 BCE saw the cultural collapse of the Mycenaean kingdoms, of the Kassites in Babylonia, of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and the Levant, and the New Kingdom of Egypt; the destruction of Ugarit and the Amorite states in the Levant, the fragmentation of the Luwian states of western Anatolia, and a period of chaos in Canaan. ... Only a few powerful states, particularly Assyria, the New Kingdom of Egypt (albeit badly weakened), and Elam survived the Bronze Age collapse. Wikipedia: The Phoenicians, now free from foreign domination and interference, appeared to have weathered the crisis relatively well, emerging as a distinct and organized civilization in 1230 BCE.... For the next several centuries, Phoenicia...filled the power vacuum caused by the Late Bronze Age collapse by becoming the sole mercantile and maritime power in the region, a status they would maintain for the next several centuries. ... The Phoenicians established ports, warehouses, markets, and settlement all across the Mediterranean and up to the southern Black Sea. Wikipedia: After its zenith in the ninth century BCE, Phoenician civilization in the eastern Mediterranean slowly declined in the face of foreign influence and conquest, though its presence would remain in the central and western Mediterranean until the second century BCE. ... The Carthaginians, who descended from Phoenician settlers, became a major civilization in their own right in the fifth century BCE. Their multi-ethnic empire, which maintained a strong Phoenician identity, spanned the western Mediterranean and at its height challenged the fledgling Roman Republic. ... The destruction of Carthage by Rome at the conclusion of the Third Punic War in 146 BCE marked the end of the last major, independent Phoenician state.3 Alphabetic writing emerged as a kind of shorthand by which fewer than 30 symbols, each one representing a single sound, could be combined to form words for a wide variety of ideas and things. This eventually replaced writing systems like Egyptian hieroglyphics in which hundreds of pictographs, or idea pictures, had to be mastered.4

   Wikipedia: The alphabet's attractive innovation was its phonetic nature, in which one sound was represented by one symbol, which meant only a few dozen symbols to learn. The other scripts of the time, cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs, employed many complex characters and required long professional training to achieve proficiency.5

Phoenicians: First inventions are sometimes a little rough and need to get the bugs worked out, and so it was with this new alphabet which the Phoenicians made popular. ... The reader was assumed to speak the language, so they would know what sound to put between the consonants. Of course, looking back at their inscriptions a few thousand years later, it is not so obvious. That is one reason why you will see different spellings for the same word or name. The ancient and modern-day translators just did the best they could.6

   Wikipedia: The phonetic structure of the Greek language created too many ambiguities when vowels went unrepresented.... They did not need letters for the guttural sounds represented by aleph, he, heth or ayin, so these symbols were assigned vocalic values. The letters waw and yod were also adapted into vowel signs; along with he, these were already used as matres lectionis in Phoenician. The major innovation of Greek was to dedicate these symbols exclusively and unambiguously to vowel sounds that could be combined arbitrarily with consonants....7

§ Schumm (2014): The paramount innovation was the use of letters to represent vowels. Many scholars believe it was this addition—which allowed text to be read and pronounced without ambiguity—that marked the creation of the first “true” alphabet.8

** Ancient History Encyclopedia: No Phoenician word begins with a vowel (only with a consonant), many Greek words do have a vowel at the beginning. This means that unless the Phoenician alphabet was altered, it would have been impossible to write Greek accurately.9

1. Image: Britannica Kids, Phoenicia: Images & Videos, (accessed ...), Phoenicia.

2. Image: the universe and man, Men And The Sea, (accessed ...), Map showing Greek and Phoenician Colonies in the Mediterranean Sea.

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...).
        Ibid., s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...), Phoenician alphabet.
        Ibid., s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...), Economy.
        Ibid., s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...).
        Ibid., s.v. Late Bronze Age collapse, (accessed ...).
        Ibid., s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...), Ascendance and high point (1200–800 BC).
        Ibid., s.v. Phoenicia, (accessed ...).

4. Note:, The Phoenician Alphabet, (accessed ...), Discovery of Egyptian Inscriptions Indicates an Earlier Date for Origin of the Alphabet.

5. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Phoenician Alphabet, (accessed ...), Spread and adaptations.

6. Note: Phoenicians, Alphabet, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Abjad, (accessed ...), Addition of vowels.

8. Note: Laura Schumm, Who created the first alphabet?, 6 Aug 2014, Updated 22 Aug 2018, (accessed ...).

9. Note: Ancient History Encyclopedia, s.v. Greek Alphabet, (accessed ...), Origin & development of the Greek Alphabet.

Phoenician Script

The script disseminated by the Phoenicians across the Mediterranean was not exclusively Phoenician. A host of Northwest Semitic languages across Canaan (Phoenician, Hebrew, Ammonite, Moabite, and Edomite)* and Aram (Aramaic) all shared the Phoenician script.

Phoenician-language inscriptions are also found in Turkey, in Cilicia and Sam'al. In Sam'al the Phoenician script was even adopted for Samalian-language inscriptions, alongside Phoenician and Aramaic inscriptions.

9th Century Levant

9th Century BCE Levant. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Semitic Languages | Robert Holmstedt

Semitic Languages; Robert Holmstedt. Source: Holmstedt (2017).2

* Wikipedia: the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language, and one of only two Northwest Semitic languages still spoken, the other being Aramaic. ... Hebrew ceased to be an everyday spoken language somewhere between 200 and 400 CE, declining in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt. Aramaic and, to a lesser extent, Greek were already in use as international languages, especially among elites and immigrants. Hebrew survived into the medieval period as the language of Jewish liturgy, rabbinic literature, intra-Jewish commerce and poetry. With the rise of Zionism in the 19th century, it was revived as a spoken and literary language, becoming the main language of the Yishuv and subsequently of the State of Israel.3

Rollston (2008): During the Iron Age, the Phoenician script...was [for some time] the international prestige script of the Levant. The Phoenician script is attested not only in Phoenicia but also in various (other) regions of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean (because, for example, of Phoenician colonization in certain regions and general cultural influence in other regions). ... During the Iron Age certain daughter scripts developed from the Phoenician Mutterschrift (and became independent national scripts). Among the most important are the Old Hebrew script and the Aramaic script. ... For the Phoenician, Old Hebrew, and Aramaic scripts, there are distinguishing diagnostic features; Northwest Semitic paleographers have often focused on elucidating them.4

1. Image: Wikimedia Commons, Kingdoms around Israel 830 map, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Robert Holmstedt, Phoenician, to appear in A Companion to Ancient Phoenicia, ed. Mark Woolmer (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), (accessed ...), p. 9.

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Hebrew language, (accessed ...).

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Phoenician Script of the Tel Zayit Abecedary and Putative Evidence for Israelite Literacy, in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, ed. Ron Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), (accessed ...), pp. 72-73.


Paleo-Hebrew (aka Phoenician script)* was the script of the Israelites and Jews up until the 6th century BCE, when it began being displaced by Aramaic-derived Hebrew square script. Even some Proto-Canaanite inscriptions—the precursor to Phoenician script—dating back to the 14th century BCE may be Hebrew.

Israelite and Jewish usage of the Phoenician script (aka Paleo-Hebrew*) dates from at least the 10th century BCE up until the 6th century BCE. Even some Proto-Canaanite inscriptions—the precursor to Phoenician script—dating back to the 14th century BCE may be Hebrew.

Hebrew usage of the shared Phoenician script began developing unique characteristics that made it discernibly Hebrew (to a trained epigrapher, at least) around the 9th century.

* Wikipedia: Use of the term "Paleo-Hebrew alphabet" is due to a 1954 suggestion by Solomon Birnbaum, who argued that "[t]o apply the term Phoenician to the script of the Hebrews is hardly suitable."1

Ngo (2018): The Paleo-Hebrew script...was used by the Israelites until the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. When the Judean exiles returned from Babylon, they brought back the square Aramaic script, which ultimately replaced the Paleo-Hebrew script. Both the Paleo-Hebrew and the square Aramaic scripts, however, were used together for hundreds of years.2

   Wikipedia: Historically, the Aramaic alphabet became distinct from Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew in the 8th century. After the fall of the Persian Empire, Judaism used both scripts before settling on the Aramaic form, henceforth de facto becoming the “Hebrew alphabet” since it was repurposed to write Hebrew. For a limited time thereafter, the use of paleo-Hebrew...among Jews was retained only to write the Tetragrammaton, but soon that custom was also abandoned.?

1. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, (accessed ...).

2. Note: Robin Ngo, Precursor to Paleo-Hebrew Script Discovered in Jerusalem, Bible History Daily (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]), 08 October 2018, (accessed ...).

Qumran Psalms Scroll (30-50 CE)

Among the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the caves of Qumran, the Psalms Scroll [11Q5] renders the name of God [YHWH] in Paleo-Hebrew: ‏𐤉𐤄𐤅𐤄‎ [‏יהוה‎].*

Image source: Library of Congress.

* Library of Congress: This impressive scroll is a collection of psalms and hymns, comprising parts of forty-one biblical psalms (chiefly form chapters 101-50).... It also presents previously unknown hymns, as well as a prose passage about the psalms. ... The scroll contains twenty-eight incomplete columns of text.... Each of the preserved columns contains fourteen to seventeen lines; it is clear that six to seven lines are lacking at the bottom of each column. The scroll's script is...drawn in the Jewish book-hand style of the Herodian period. The Tetragrammaton (the four-letter divine name), however, is written in the paleo-Hebrew script.2

1. Image: Library of Congress, The Psalms Scroll, (accessed ...), The Psalms Scroll.

2. Note: Library of Congress, Scrolls from the Dead Sea: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship, and (accessed ...), Introduction: The Psalms Scroll.

Qumran Leviticus Scroll (2nd century BCE-1st century CE)

The Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls include some dozen or so* manuscripts written entirely in Paleo-Hebrew, among them the Leviticus Scroll [11QpaleoLev], which is presumed to be a copy tracing back to a Paleo-Hebrew original.

Leviticus Scroll | Shai Halevi

Leviticus Scroll; Shai Halevi. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

* Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library: The most well-known texts among the Dead Sea Scrolls are the ancient religious writings found in eleven caves near the site of Qumran. ... The Qumran Caves Scrolls contain significant religious literature. They consist of two types: “biblical” manuscripts—books found in today’s Hebrew Bible, and “non-biblical” manuscripts—other religious writings circulating during the Second Temple era. ... Scroll dates range from the third century bce (mid–Second Temple period) to the first century of the Common Era, before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 ce. While Hebrew is the most frequently used language in the Scrolls, about 15% were written in Aramaic and several in Greek. ... Among the Scrolls are partial or complete copies of every book in the Hebrew Bible (except the book of Esther). About a dozen copies of some of these holy books were written in ancient paleo-Hebrew (the script of the First Temple era, not the standard script of the time).2

Wikipedia: The Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus scroll, although many centuries more recent than the well-known earlier ancient paleo-Hebrew epigraphic materials... [assuming it] was copied word-for-word from an older paleo-Hebrew manuscript, and that it, too, was copied in the same way from an older manuscript, until one were to go back in time to the original copy of the Torah scroll...conveys in its orthography an early Jewish tradition of writing going back to at least the 14th-century BCE.3

1. Image: Shai Halevi (on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority), 11QpaleoLev - Qumran Cave 11, Wikimedia Commons, (accessed ...).

2. Note: Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, Learn About the Scrolls: Introduction, Israel Antiquities Authority, (accessed ...).

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Paleo-Hebrew Leviticus Scroll, (accessed ...).

The Ten Commandments Movie

In the 1956 film the stone tablets received by Moses are portrayed in Paleo-Hebrew (aka Phoenician script).

Moses and Ten Commandments | Allstar/Cinetext/PARAMOUNT

Moses and Ten Commandments; Allstar/Cinetext/PARAMOUNT. Source:

1. Image: James Dunn, Hangover cures, plays about Moses and a doctor's report on a drowned slave girl: Long lost papyrus scraps reveal life in Egypt 2,000 years ago,, 2 March 2016, (accessed ...), It is evidence that a play about the biblical character will have been performed more than 2,000 years before Charlton Heston played him in 1956 movie The Ten Commandments.

Old Aramaic

Hebrew square script is derived from (Imperial?) Aramaic. (Imperial?) Aramaic evolved from Old Aramaic. Old Aramaic, like Paleo-Hebrew, is the Phoenician script .

Table of Canaanite and Aramaic Inscriptions

Biblical Archaeology Society: We have more that 10,000 inscriptions in Phoenician, from all over the Mediterranean, but almost all are short and formulaic, recording dedications to the gods, the deaths of friends and family members, or occasional brief magical texts. ... The problem is in part the Phoenician alphabet itself: ...its linear nature was best suited to writing in ink on papyrus or parchment. Such materials only survive in extremely dry environments, such as the Egyptian desert, and so many Phoenician documents are now lost.

Biblical Archaeology Society: Our first examples of the Phoenician alphabet—technically an abjad, containing only consonants—appear around the 11th century B.C.E. It was not the first writing system of this kind: 200 years earlier, the people of Ugarit a little further up the Syrian coast used a cuneiform alphabet (including some indication of vowels) to write their local language, and the Phoenician script itself seems to derive from an abjad in use in the Sinai peninsula in the early second millennium B.C.E., which adapted Egyptian hieroglyphic signs. ... There are 22 letters in Phoenician, and 24 in ancient Greek, but the Akkadian syllabic script has close to 1,000 signs. This makes it much easier for people to learn alphabetic scripts: they bring reading and writing from the province of specialist scribes into the grasp of anyone lucky enough to get a good basic education.

Near East Historiographical Age (Since 539 BCE)
Phoenician (since 1050 BCE)/Paleo-Hebrew (since 900 BCE) Inscriptions*
PhoenicianHebrewMoabiteAmmoniteEdomitePhilistineDeir AllahAramaicSamalianCilician
1st c. (000s)
2nd c. (100s)Cippi of Melqart
KAI 47
3rd c. (200s)
4th c. (300s)
5th c. (400s)Yehawmilk Stele
KAI 10,
Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus
KAI 14,
Tabnit Sarcophagus
KAI 13
6th c. (500s)Bodashtart Inscriptions
KAI 15-16
Son of Shipitbaal III
Pyrgi Tablets
KAI 277
Arad Ostraca
Heshbon Ostracon A1/IV
Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3
Jalul Ostracon 1
Near East Iron Age (1200-539 BCE)
Iron Age II (1000-539)
7th c. (600s)Malta Stele
Shebna Inscription
KAI 191,
Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon
KAI 200
Tell Siran Bronze Bottle
Amman Theater Inscription
Kheleifeh Ostracon 6043
Horvat Uza Inscription
Umm al-Biyara Ostracon
Tel Aroer Ostracon
Qawsanal Seal Impression
Tel Aroer Seal
Ashkelon Seren Ostracon
Ekron Royal Dedicatory Inscription
KAI 286
Ekron Store-Jar Inscription
Tell Jemmeh Ostraca
Nimrud Ostracon
Arslan Tash Amulets
Sin zir Ibni Inscription
KAI 225,
Si Gabbor Stele
KAI 226
Cebelireis Dağı Inscription (phn)
8th c. (700s)Seville Astarte Statuette
KAI 294,
Baal Lebanon
KAI 31
Siloam Inscription
KAI 189,
Khirbet el-Qom
Kuntillet ‘Ajrud
Royal Moabite Inscription
Amman Statue Inscription
Sefire Steles I-III
KAI 222-224,
Stele of Zakkur
KAI 202
Panamuwa Inscriptions I-II
KAI 214-215,
Kuttamuwa/Katumuwa Inscription
Bar Rakkib Inscriptions I-III (arc)
KAI 216-218
Karatepe Bilingual (phn)
KAI 26,
Çineköy Inscription (phn)
Incirli Stele (phn)
Hasanbeyli Inscription (phn)
KAI 23
9th c. (800s)Kition Bowl
Nora Stone
KAI 46,
Bosa Fragment
Samaria Ostraca
Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription
Mesha Stele
KAI 181,
El-Kerak Inscription
KAI 306
Amman Citadel Inscription
KAI 307
Deir Alla Inscription
KAI 312
Melqart Stele
KAI 201,
Tel Dan Stele
KAI 310
Tell Fekheriye Inscription
KAI 309
Kilamuwa/Kulamuwa Stela (phn)
KAI 24
10th c. (900s)Honeyman Inscription
KAI 30,
Tekke Bowl
Abda Sherd
Shipitbaal Inscription
KAI 7,
Elibaal Inscription
KAI 6,
Abibaal Inscription
KAI 5,
Yehimilk Inscription
Linear Proto-Canaanite Script
(before 1050-900 BCE)
Kefar Veradim Bowl [2006?],
Gezer Calendar KAI 182,
Tel Zayit Abecedary [2005],
Beth Shemesh Game Board [????],
Tel Batash Bowl Rim [????],
Gath Ostracon [2005],
Tel Amal Jar [????],
Khirbet Rosh Zayit Sherd [????],
Ophel Pithos [2012]
Iron Age I (1200-1000)
11th c. (1000s)Ahiram Sarcophagus
Azarbaal Spatula KAI 3,
Nora Fragment [????],
Byblos Cone B [????],
Byblos Cone A [????],
Ishba'al Inscription [2012],
Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon [2008]
12th c. (1100s)Manahat Inscription [????],
Khirbet Raddana Handle [????],
Lachish Jar Sherd [2014]
Near East Bronze Age (3300-1200 BCE)
Late Bronze (1550-1200)
13th c. (1200s)Sarepta Sherd [????],
Beth Shemesh Ostracon [????],
Qubur al-Walaydah Bowl [1977],
Lachish Bowl [????],
Lachish Bowl Fragment [1983],
Lachish Ewer [1933],
Izbet Sartah Abecedary [1976]
14th c. (1300s)
15th c. (1400s)Byblos Syllabary [1928-1932]
Middle Bronze (2100-1550)
Iconic (Sinaitic-like) Proto-Canaanite ScriptProto-Sinaitic Script
(1850 BCE to 1550 BCE)
16th c. (1500s)Lachish Dagger
Serabit el-Khadim Inscriptions
17th c. (1600s)Tel Nagila Sherd
Shechem Plaque
18th c. (1700s)Gezer Sherd
Wadi el-Hol Inscriptions
19th c. (1800s)

Israel Antiquities Authority: Iron Age I (1200–1000 BCE)...Iron Age II (1000–586 BCE). Israel Finkelstein and Benjamin Sass [2013], p. 180: Late Bronze II: 13th century. Late Bronze III: first two thirds or three quarters of the 12th century. Early–middle Iron I: late 12th to mid 11th century. Late Iron I: Mid 11th to mid 10th century. Early Iron IIA: mid 10th to early 9th century. Late Iron IIA1: ca. 880–840/830 (based on historical arguments). Late Iron IIA2: ca. 840/830–780/770 (same; see Section 1.2). Early Iron IIB: later in the first half and middle of the 8th century. Shmuel Aḥituv, Amihai Mazar [], p. 61: Questions concerning chronology are mostly related to the ongoing debate over the chronology of the Iron Age. Based on Finkelstein’s low chronology, Sass proposed that all inscriptions previously ascribed to the tenth century BCE, including the inscriptions of the kings of Byblos and the Gezer Calendar, among others, should be down-dated to the ninth century BCE. He claimed that West-Semitic writing underwent rapid development in the ninth century, shifting from the archaic writing of the Gezer Calendar and the Kefar Veradim bowl inscription to the stable and developed writing of the Mesha and Tel Dan stelae. However...Finkelstein’s low chronology scheme has lately undergone a major revision.... ... This correction has enabled to determine the date of the transition from Iron Age I to II to the first part of the tenth century BCE and assign the greater part of the tenth century BCE to Iron Age IIA.

Wikipedia: The primary reference for extra-biblical Canaanite inscriptions, together with Aramaic inscriptions, is the German-language book Kanaanäische und Aramäische Inschriften, from which inscriptions are often referenced as KAI n. The Free Library: Herbert Donner and Wolfgang Rollig's first edition (1962)...rapidly became a standard reference work. It consisted of three separate volumes, comprising Texte; Kommentar; and Glossare, Indizes, Tafeln. The most important component of this handbook was, arguably, the philological notes (replete with variant readings) of volume two. Scott Noegel: The first volume of H. Donner and W. Röllig’s now classic Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften is now nearly forty years old; the second and third volumes of that work are younger by only a few years (the volumes appeared in 1966, 1968, and 1969 respectively). Needless to say, in these intervening decades there have been a number of new inscriptional finds, as well as changes of interpretation. These necessitate a revised publication of this monumental work.... The new edition [2002] contains a number of additional texts. These include Phoenician texts from Byblos, Sidon, Tyre, Sarepta (Tinnit inscription), Tel Miqne, Syria (Cebelireis Gagi), Kition, Crete, Kos (bilingual), Greece (Demetrias), and Spain (Hispania 14). Additional Punic inscriptions include those from Sicily (Grota Regina [Nr. 38A] and Mozia (Nr. 23, 24, 31]), Sardinia (Antas [Nr. 1–3]); and two from Carthage (including a Latino-Punic inscription). In addition, the editors have included some of the more famous inscriptions discovered since 1966 including those in Moabite (Kerak), Ammonite (Amman Citadel and Tell Siran inscriptions); and Aramaic (the bilingual from Tell Fekheriya, the Tell Dan, Arslan Tash/Samos, Deir `Alla, Tell Shech Hamad, and Tell Soukh Foqani inscriptions). Two Aramaic inscriptions from Asia Minor (Daskyleion and a trilingual inscription from Xanthos), and one from Bukan (placed under the heading “peripheral areas,” i.e., “Randgebieten”) conclude the book.

Phoenician-Language Inscriptions

Wikipedia: Phoenician was...spoken in the coastal (Mediterranean) region, then called "Pūt" (in Phoenician and Egyptian), "Canaan" (in Biblical Hebrew, Old Arabic, and Aramaic), and "Phoenicia" (in Greek and Latin). It is a part of the Canaanite subgroup of the Northwest Semitic languages. Other members of the family are Hebrew, Ammonite, Moabite, and Edomite.

Rollston (2008): There are a number of Phoenician inscriptions from the Phoenician homeland itself that provide substantial data about the Phoenician script of the late 11th, 10th, and early 9th centuries. Among the most important of the early Phoenician inscriptions is the Bronze ʿAzarbaʿl Inscription (often referred to as the Bronze Spatula Inscription).
There are several 10th-century “Royal Phoenician inscriptions” from Byblos. Among the most impressive is the ʾAḥiram Sarcophagus Inscription, an inscription that was commissioned by ʾAḥiram’s son ʾIttobaʿl. The majority of this inscription is written on the lid of the sarcophagus (the length of it), but the initial component of the inscription is written on the end of the sarcophagus itself (that is, not on the lid). Most of the letters were chiseled with care and substantial precision, although there is a diminution of letter size that is visible (and quantifiable) in the terminal portions of the inscription. The Phoenician script of the ʾAḥiram Sarcophagus is distinguishable from the script of the ʿAzarbaʿl Inscription; that is, some typological developments are present. Among the most important developments are the distinct lengthening of the vertical shaft of samek, the lengthening of the fifth stroke of mem, and the lengthening of the verticals of ḥet.
Because of Phoenician colonization and seafaring, the Phoenician script (and often language) began to be employed in numerous regions (not only in regions such as Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon). For example, from Cyprus comes the Honeyman Inscription, a monumental Phoenician inscription from the 9th century. The Nora Inscription was found on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia and can be dated with substantial certitude to the (late) 9th century. The Kition Bowl was found at Kition (Cyprus) and reflects a fine Phoenician cursive of the mid-8th century. Moreover, the Seville Statuette (Spain) dates to the second half of the 8th century and employs the Phoenician script. Additionally, the Malta Stele, from the late 8th century, reflects a fine Phoenician script. One of the most important of the Phoenician inscriptions from the (late) 8th century is the Karatepe Inscription (Asia Minor). Within this inscription, the Anatolian (Neo-Hittite) regent Azitawadda also commissioned a Phoenician inscription (8th century) to parallel his (native) Hittite hieroglyphic rendition. This inscription (from the site of Karatepe) is the longest of the Phoenician inscriptions (see McCarter 1975; Peckham 1968). The point is that the Phoenician script became a dominant Northwest Semitic script tradition during the 10th, 9th, and 8th centuries. Moreover, lapidary and cursive inscriptions are attested from regions near to and far from the Phoenician homeland.

?. Christopher A. Rollston, The Phoenician Script of the Tel Zayit Abecedary and Putative Evidence for Israelite Literacy, in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, ed. Ron Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), (accessed ...), pp. ??.

Phoenician Chronology, p. 16.

Wikipedia: Phoenician civilization was organized in city-states, similar to those of ancient Greece, of which the most notable were Tyre, Sidon, Arwad, Berytus, Byblos, and Carthage.[14][15] Each city-state was politically independent, and there is no evidence the Phoenicians viewed themselves as a single nationality.

Holmstedt (2017): Texts associated directly with these three cities [Tyre,Sidon, Byblos] span nearly a millennia, from the eleventh century B.C.E. Byblian texts (e.g., theBronze “spatula” [KAI 3]) to second century Tyrian texts (e.g., the “Throne of Astarte”inscription [KAI 17]). However, there are gaps in linguistic record from the Phoenicia proper, with clusters of texts in the tenth century (Byblos) and then in the fifth to third centuries (Byblos, Tyre, and Sidon). ... The earliest Phoenician text found outside Phoenicia is the fragmentary stele from Nora in Sardinia. ... Tenth century finds are rare and those that exist are difficult to interpret, such as the Bronze bowl from the Knossos Tekke tomb in Crete. The ninth century, however, produced substantive royal and commemorative texts written in Phoenician, most notably from northern Syria in Zinjirli (Kulamuwa’sinscription, ca. 825 [KAI 24]), Cyprus (the “Honeyman” inscription, ca. 825 [KAI 30]), and Sardinia (the Nora Stele, ca. 825 [KAI 46]). The most impressive texts from the eighth century are those from southeastern Anatolia—the inscription found at Hassan-Beyli (ca. 750 [KAI 23], the bilingual texts from Karatepe (ca. 725 [KAI 26]), Ivriz (ca.730-710), and Çineköy (ca. 715), and the still enigmatic trilingual from Incirli (ca. 740). The seventh through second centuries exhibits a wide diversity of linguistic artefacts. ... Texts later than this, specifically those post-dating the Roman conquest of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 B.C.E., are typically referred to as “Late Punic,” which includes texts written in “Neo-Punic” script as wellas those written in Latin script (“Latino-Punic”). The late texts in Neo-Punic script have been found primarily in Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, although some have also been found as far as Egypt, Morocco, Greece, Malta, Sicily, Italy, Sardinia, Spain, and even Wales. The Latino-Punic texts number approximately seventy and come from Tripolitania. Altogether, the known Phoenician texts number nearly seven thousand. ... Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften (Donner and Röllig 1962-64 [2002]) includes seventy-five “Phoenician” texts (KAI 1-60, 280-294),sixty-five “Punic” texts (KAI 61-116, 295-303), and fifty-six “Neo-Punic” texts (KAI 117-173).1

1. Robert Holmstedt, Phoenician, to appear in A Companion to Ancient Phoenicia, ed. Mark Woolmer (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017), (accessed ...), pp. 1-5.

Cippi of Melqart [KAI 47, 1694] (2nd century BCE), Malta

Cippus of Melqart, Louvre | R Muscat

Cippus of Melqart, Louvre; R Muscat. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Cippus of Melqart, Valetta, Malta | Project

Cippus of Melqart, Valetta, Malta; Project. Source: Maltese History & Heritage.2

Cippus of Melqart, Louvre, Inscription | Vermondo Cippus of Melqart, Louvre  Inscription| Vermondo

Cippus of Melqart, Louvre, Inscription; Vermondo. Source: Wikimedia Commons.3,4

Cippus of Melqart, Valetta, Malta, Replica | Hamelin de Guettelet

Cippus of Melqart, Valetta, Malta, Replica; Hamelin de Guettelet. Source: Wikimedia Commons.5


lʾdnn* lmlqrt bʿl ṣr ʾš ndr
ʿbdk ʿbdʾsr wʾḥy ʾsršmr
šn bn ʾsršmr bn ʿbdʾsr kšmʿ
qlm ybrkm

Διονύσιος καὶ Σαραπίων οἱ
Σαραπίωνος Τύριοι
Ἡρακλεῖ ἀρχηγέτει
To our lord [lʾdnn] Melqarth [lmlqrt], the Baʿal [bʿl] of Tyre [ṣr], which [ʾš]
thy servant [ʿbdk] ʿAbd-osir [ʿbdʾsr] and his brother [wʾḥy] Osir-shamar [ʾsršmr],
the two [šn] sons [bn] of Osir-shamar [ʾsršmr], son [bn] of ʿAbd-osir [ʿbdʾsr], vowed [ndr], because he heard [kšmʿ]
their voice [qlm]. May he bless them! [ybrkm]

Dionysos and Serapion the
sons of Serapion, Tyrenes
to Heracles the founder

Phoenician and Greek transliteration source: Chatonnet (2012).6 Phoenician translation source: Cooke (1903).7 Greek translation source: Musée du Louvre.8

* ʾdn = lord; lʾdn = to/for the lord; wlʾdn = and to/for the lord.; lʾdnm = to/for his lord; lʾdnn = to/for our lord; lʾdnnm = to/for their lord; lʾdny = to/for his/my lord.

† ἀρχηγέτει = founder. Perseus: Ἀρχηγέτης, ου, ὁ: first leader, author, esp. founder of a city or family....; leader/chief. Suda On Line: Ἀρχηγέτης (alpha,4095): leader (Ἡγεμών).


CultureMalta: The cippi of Malta are to Phoenician script what the Rosetta Stone is to Egyptian hieroglyphics, the key to finally decoding the world’s first written script.9

Musée du Louvre: The [Greek] text...reveals this to be a monument dedicated by Dionysos and Serapion, men of Tyre. Using this inscription, which contains 18 of the 22 letters of the Phoenician alphabet, Fr. Jean-Jacques Barthélémy was able to begin the decipherment of the language. He was thus able to read the first word 'DNN' as "to our lord." The notion that Heracles might correspond to Melqart, Lord of Tyre, led to the identification of further letters, while the names of the dedicators - sons of the same father in the Greek text - enabled him to find the latter in the Phoenician text.10

CultureMalta: The cippi (plural of cippus)...are...dedicated to the god Melqart, the most important Phoenician god. ... The cippi were 1694, during the period of the Knights of Malta. ... In 1782, one of the two cippi was presented to King Louis XVI by the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, Fra Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc. Today, it is found in the Louvre Museum in Paris while its twin is at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta, Malta.11

Cooke (1903): This inscr. is repeated in the same words on two pedestals, one at Valetta, the other in the Louvre. ... The letters of this inscr. resemble the Tyrian and Sidonian type.12

Wikipedia: The...two...cippi...are inscribed in...Ancient Greek and Phoenician. ... Because they present essentially the same text (with some minor differences), the cippi provided the key to the modern understanding of the Phoenician language. In 1764, the French scholar Jean-Jacques Barthélémy relied on their inscription, which used 17 of the 22 letters of the Phoenician alphabet, to decipher the unknown language.13

Musée du Louvre: Relations between Malta and the Phoenicians...go back to the 8th century BC, but the inscription here suggests a date in the 2nd century BC, when the Maltese Islands were under Roman occupation.14

1. Image: R Muscat, Cippus - Louvre, Wikimedia Commons, 15 February 2014, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Maltese History & Heritage, History of the Maltese Language, (accessed ...).

3. Drawing: Vermondo, Louvre Cippus Phoenician inscription, Wikimedia Commons, 15 February 2014, (accessed ...).

4. Drawing: Vermondo, Louvre Cippus Greek inscription, Wikimedia Commons, 15 February 2014, (accessed ...).

5. Image: Hamelin de Guettelet, Phoenician Cippus in Malta, Wikimedia Commons, 15 February 2014, (accessed ...).

6. Transliteration: Françoise Briquel Chatonnet, Les Inscriptions Phénico-Grecqueset le Bilinguisme des Phéniciens, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres [CRAI] 156e année, N. 1 (2012)énico_grecques_et_le_bilinguisme_des_Phéniciens (accessed ...), p. 627.

7. Translation: G. A. Cooke, A Text-Book of North-Semitic Inscriptions: Moabite, Hebrew, Phoenician, Aramaic, Nabataean, Palmyrene, Jewish (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903), (accessed ...), p. 102.

8. Translation: Musée du Louvre, Cippus from Malta, (accessed ...).

9. Note: CultureMalta, Cippus from Malta, (accessed ...).

10. Note: Musée du Louvre.

11. Note: CultureMalta.

12. Note: Cooke.

13. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Cippi of Melqart, (accessed ...).

14. Note: Musée du Louvre.

Yehawmilk Stele [KAI 10, 1869] (5th Century BCE, ca. 450), Byblos

Yehawmilk Stele | RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda

Yehawmilk Stele; RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda. Source: Musée du Louvre.1

Yehawmilk Stele | Julius Euting
𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤉𐤇𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤁𐤍𐤉𐤇𐤓𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤁𐤍𐤁𐤍𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤌𐤋𐤊
𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤀𐤔𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤍 𐤄𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤌𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤕𐤏𐤋𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤅𐤒𐤓𐤀𐤀𐤍𐤊
𐤀𐤕𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤉𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤅𐤔𐤌𐤏﹏[...]𐤒𐤋﹏𐤅𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤋𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤉𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕
𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤄𐤌𐤆𐤁𐤇𐤍𐤇𐤔𐤕 𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤔 𐤁𐤇𐤆[•]𐤄𐤆 𐤅𐤄𐤐𐤕𐤇 𐤇𐤓𐤑𐤆𐤍 𐤀𐤔
𐤏𐤋𐤐𐤍𐤐𐤕𐤇𐤉𐤆 𐤅𐤄𐤏𐤐𐤕𐤇𐤓𐤑 𐤀𐤔𐤁𐤕𐤊𐤕𐤀𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤔𐤏𐤋𐤐𐤕𐤇 𐤇𐤓𐤑𐤆𐤍
𐤅𐤄𐤏𐤓𐤐𐤕﹏𐤆𐤀 𐤅𐤏𐤌𐤃𐤄 𐤅𐤄𐤊𐤕𐤓𐤌 𐤀𐤔𐤏𐤋𐤄𐤌 𐤅𐤌𐤎𐤐𐤍𐤕𐤄 𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤀𐤍𐤊
𐤉𐤇𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤋𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤉 𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤊𐤌 𐤀𐤔𐤒𐤓𐤀𐤕𐤀𐤕𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤉
𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤅𐤔𐤌𐤏𐤒𐤋﹏𐤅𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤋𐤉𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤕𐤁𐤓𐤊 𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤀𐤉𐤕𐤉𐤇𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤊
𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤅𐤕𐤇𐤅𐤅 𐤅𐤕𐤀𐤓𐤊𐤉𐤌𐤅𐤅𐤔𐤍𐤕𐤅𐤏𐤋𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤊𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤑𐤃𐤒𐤄𐤀𐤅𐤕𐤕𐤍
[𐤋𐤅 𐤄𐤓𐤁𐤕 𐤁]𐤟𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤇𐤍 𐤋𐤏𐤍𐤀𐤋𐤍𐤌 𐤅𐤋𐤏𐤍𐤏𐤌𐤀𐤓𐤑𐤆 𐤅𐤇𐤍𐤏𐤌𐤀𐤓
𐤑𐤆[••••••]𐤟𐤊𐤋𐤌𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤕 𐤅𐤊𐤋𐤀𐤃𐤌 𐤀𐤔𐤉𐤎𐤐𐤋𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤌𐤋𐤀𐤊𐤕𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤌𐤆
𐤁𐤇 𐤆𐤍﹏[𐤅𐤏𐤋𐤕 𐤐𐤕]𐤟𐤇 𐤇𐤓𐤑 𐤆𐤍 𐤅𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤏𐤓𐤐𐤕𐤆𐤀﹏𐤔𐤌𐤀𐤍𐤊𐤉𐤇𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤊
𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤂𐤁𐤋﹏[𐤕𐤔𐤕 𐤀𐤕]𐤟𐤊𐤏𐤋𐤌𐤋𐤀𐤊𐤕𐤄𐤀 𐤅𐤀𐤌𐤀𐤁𐤋𐤕𐤔𐤕𐤔𐤌 𐤀𐤕𐤊 𐤅𐤀𐤌𐤕𐤎
𐤓 𐤌𐤋𐤀𐤊𐤕 𐤆𐤀﹏[𐤅𐤕𐤎]𐤟𐤂𐤀𐤕𐤄[𐤒/𐤏ˀ•••]𐤆𐤃𐤋𐤉𐤎𐤃𐤄 𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤌𐤒𐤌𐤆𐤅𐤕𐤂𐤋
𐤌𐤎𐤕𐤓𐤅 𐤕𐤎𐤓𐤇[𐤅]𐤟𐤄𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤀𐤉𐤕𐤄𐤀𐤃𐤌𐤄𐤀 𐤅𐤆𐤓𐤏𐤅
ʾnk yḥwmlk mlk-gbl bn-yḥrbʿl bn-bn-ʾrmlk-mlk
gbl ʾš-pʿltn hrbt-bʿlt-gbl mmlkt-ʿl-gbl wqrʾ-ʾnk
ʾt-rbty-bʿlt-gbl-wšmʿ﹏[...]-ql﹏wpʿl-ʾnk lrbty-bʿlt
gbl hmzbḥ-nḥšt zn ʾš bḥz[•]h-z whptḥ ḥrṣ-zn ʾš
ʿl-pn-ptḥy-z whʿpt-ḥrṣ ʾš-btkt-ʾbn ʾšʿl-ptḥ ḥrṣ-zn
whʿrpt﹏zʾ wʿmdh whktrm ʾš-ʿl-hm wmspnth pʿl-ʾnk
yḥwmlk mlk-gbl lrbty bʿlt-gbl-km ʾš-qrʾt-ʾt-rbty
bʿlt-gbl wšmʿ-ql﹏wpʿl-ly-nʿm tbrk bʿlt-gbl-ʾyt-yḥwmlk
mlk-gbl wtḥww wtʾrk-ymw-wšntw-ʿl-gbl-k-mlk-ṣdq-hʾ-wttn
[lw hrbt b]ʿlt-gbl ḥn lʿn-ʾlnm wlʿn-ʿm-ʾrṣ-z wḥn-ʿm-ʾr=
=ṣ-z[••••••]-kl-mmlkt wkl-ʾdm ʾš-ysp-lpʿl-mlʾkt-ʿlt-mz=
=bḥ zn﹏[wʿlt pt]ḥ ḥrṣ zn wʿlt-ʿrpt-zʾ﹏šm-ʾnk-yḥwmlk
mlk-gbl﹏[tšt ʾt]k-ʿl-mlʾkt-hʾ wʾm-ʾbl-tšt-šm ʾtk wʾm-ts=
=r mlʾkt zʾ﹏[wts]g-ʾt-h[q/ʿˀ•••]z-dl-ysdh ʿlt-mqm-z-wtgl
mstrw tsrḥ[w]-hrbt-bʿlt-gbl ʾyt-hʾdm-hʾ wzrʿw
l-am Yaḥawmilk king-of-Byblos son-of-Yḥrbaʿal grandson-of- ʾUrimilk-king-of
Byblos whom-me-made the-Lady-Mistress-of-Byblos majesty-over-Byblos and-I-invoking
her-my-Lady-Mistress-of-Byblos-and-hearing [...]-‹my›-voice and-I-making for-the-Lady-Mistress-of
Byblos altar-of-bronze, this, which ‹is›-in-this-court and-the-engraving golden-this which
all-above-over-this-my-inscription and-the-winged-golden-disk which-is-in-the-midst-of-the-stone which-is-above-the- engraving-this-golden
and-the-colonnade, this, and-its-pillars and-the-capitals which-are-upon-them and-its-roof made-I
Yaḥawmilk, king-of-Byblos, for-my-Lody Mistress-of-Byblos-inasmuch-as I-invoked-my-Lady
Mistress-of-Byblos and-‹she›-hearing-my-voice and-‹she›-making-me-happy. May-she-bless, the-Mistress-of-Byblos-him- Yaḥawmilk
king-of-Byblos and-grant-him-life and-prolong-his-days-and-his-years-over-Byblos-for-righteous-king-is-he-and-she-may-give
[him, the Lady M]istress-of-Byblos favour in-the-face-of-the-gods and-in-the-face-of-the-people-of-this-land and-favour-by-the-people-of-this-la=
=nd! [.........]every-majesty and-every-man who-further-does-work‹sacrificeˀ›-upon-al=
=tar, this, [and-upon-engra]ving golden, this, and-upon-the-colonnade-this, ‹my›name-I-Yaḥawmilk
king-of-Byblos [you shall put/commemorate together-with]-yours-upon-this-work‹sacrificeˀ› and-if-not-you-put-‹my›-name with-yours- and-if-you-remo=
=ve‹refuseˀ› work‹sacrificeˀ› this [and-take aw]ay-the[...]-this-along-with-its-base from/upon-this-place-and-uncover
its-vault may-ruin-him-the-Lady-Mistress-of-Byblos him-this-very-man and-his-seed
in-the-presence-of all-gods-of-B[yblos].

Yehawmilk Stele; Julius Euting. Source: Euting (1876).2

Transliteration source, Lehmann (2005): In this transliteration, the lexemes which are written close together in scriptio continua are connected by hyphens.... Some extremely narrow or dubious spaces or otherwise doubtful parts of the text have - if necessary, an additional - curled underline. ... Word division in line breaks...happens lines 10/11 (ʾr|), 11/12 (mz|bḥ), and 13/14 (ts|r).3 Lehmann (2005): Spacing [occurs] only at word boundaries [but not] at every margin of a word. ... There is rather an interplay of cohesion and separation between groups of words. ... The spacing therefore can neither have the same function as the word separation spaces in...modern Western writing, nor is like the use of word dividing points which most early Phoenician inscriptions. As a consequence, the spacing cannot be determined by lexematic implications only, and it cannot be based on an idea of 'word' - at least not in a modern sense.4 Translation source, Lehmann (2005): A tentative translation taking into account the prosodic organization of the text by spaces...not intended to give a literary translation here, but to give an idea of the prosodic organization of the text in English).5


Lehmann (2005): In 1869, a local inhabitant of Jebeil, the site of ancient Gubla/Byblos, found an inscribed stele along with two lion figures while digging holes to plant trees near his house. ... The stele was erected by a certain Yaḥawmilk, king of Byblos, as a dedication to his lady, the Baʿalat-Gubla. ... A missing fragment of the right bottom part was found 70 years later in the same place. For palaeographic reasons, because of the Persian-style scene above, and because of subsequently confirmed stratigraphy the stele is to be dated to the Persian period, i. e. the 5th or 4 century BCE.6

1. Image: RMN / René-Gabriel Ojéda,The Yehawmilk Stele, Musée du Louvre, 2007, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Julius Euting, Inschriftliche Mittheilungen: III Inschrift von Gebâl, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 30 (Leipzig: 1876), (accessed ...), Widmung des Königs Jehawmelek an die Baʽalat von Gebâl.

3. Transliteration: Reinhard G. Lehmann, Space-Syntax and Metre in the Inscription of Yaḥawmilk, King of Byblos, in Proceedings of Yarmouk Second Annual Colloquium on Epigraphy and Ancient Writings, ed. Omar Al-Ghul assisted by Afaf Zeyad (Jordon: National Press, 2005) (accessed ...), pp. 80, 84-85.

4. Ibid., p. 85.

5. Translation: Ibid., p. 96.

6. Note: Ibid., pp. 71-73.

Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus [KAI 14, 1855] (6th-5th Century BCE, ca. 500), Sidon

Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus | Eric Chan

Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus; Eric Chan. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus Inscription

Eshmunazar II Sarcophagus Inscription. Source: Codex 99.2

𐤁𐤉𐤓𐤇𐤁𐤋𐤁𐤔𐤍𐤕𐤏𐤎𐤓𐤅𐤀𐤓𐤁𐤏 𐤗𐤛𐤖 𐤋𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤉𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤀𐤔𐤌𐤍𐤏𐤆𐤓𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤑𐤃𐤍𐤌
byrḥ bl bšnt ʿsr wʾrbʿ 14 lmlky mlk ʾšmnʿzr mlk ṣdnm
bn mlk tbnt mlk ṣdnm dbr mlk ʾšmnʿzr mlk ṣdnm lʾmr ngzlt
bl ʿty bn msk ymm ʾzrm ytm bn ʾlmt wškb ʾnk bḥlt z wbqbr z
bmqm ʾš bnt qnmy ʾt kl mmlkt wkl ʾdm ʾl yptḥ ʾyt mškb z w-
ʾl ybqš bn mnm k ʾy šm bn mnm wʾl yšʾ ʾyt ḥlt mškby wʾl yʿm-
sn bmškb z ʿlt mškb šny ʾp ʾm ʾdnm ydbrnk ʾl tšmʿ bd<br>nm kl mmlkt w-
kl ʾdm ʾš yptḥ ʿlt mškb z ʾm ʾš yšʾ ʾyt ḥlt mškby ʾmʾš yʿmsn bm-
škb z ʾl ykn lm mškb ʾt rpʾm wʾl yqbr bqbr wʾl ykn lm bn wzrʿ
tḥtnm wysgrnm hʾlnm hqdšm ʾt mmlk<t> ʾdr ʾš mšl bnm lq-
ṣtnm ʾyt mmlkt ʾm ʾdm hʾ ʾš yptḥ ʿlt mškb z ʾm ʾš yšʾ ʾyt
ḥlt z wʾyt zrʿ mml<k>t hʾ ʾm ʾdmm hmt ʾl ykn šrš lmṭ w-
pr lmʿl wtʾr bḥym tḥt šmš...
...qnmy ʾt kl mmlkt wkl ʾdm ʾl yptḥ ʿlty
wʾl yʿr ʿlty wʾl yʿmsn bmškb z wʾl yšʾ ʾyt ḥlt mškby lm ysgrnm
ʾlnm hqdšm ʾl wyqṣn hmmlkt hʾ whʾdmm hmt wzrʿm lʿlm
In the month Bul, in the fourteenth year of the reign of King Eshmunazor, king of Sidon,
son of King Tabnit, king of Sidon, King Eshmunazor, king of Sidon spoke as follows: I was snatched away
before my time, a son of few days(?), fatherless, the son of a widow. And I rest in this sarcophagus and this grave,
in a place which I built. Whosoever you may be, from ruler to commoner, let him not open this resting-place
and let him not search for anything, for nothing has been placed therein, and let him not take this sarcophagus, my resting-place, and let him not carry me
off from this resting-place into another resting-place. Even if men tell you to, do not listen to them, for every ruler or
commoner that opens this resting-place or takes away this sarcophagus, my resting-place, or that carries me off from
this resting-place – may he have no resting-place among the Rephaim, and may he not be buried in a grave, and may he have no son or seed
to come after him, and may the holy gods extradite him to a powerful ruler who shall rule over him,
to cut him off, every ruler or commoner that opens this resting-place, or that takes away
this sarcophagus, and the seed of that ruler or of those commoners. May there be for him no root below or
fruit above or living shape under the sun.
Whosoever you may be, from ruler to commoner, let him not open it
and let him not uncover me, and let him not carry me away from this resting-place, and let him not take the sarcophagus, my resting-place, or else
these holy gods shall extradite him and cut off that ruler or that commoner and their seed forever.

Partial transliteration and translation source (lines 1-12a, 20b-22): Wikander (2015).3,4 (For a complete transliteration and translation see Jean-Claude Haelewyck [2012], pp. 79-81.)


Haelewyck (2012): The sarcophagus was constructed in Egypt in black basalt and transported to Sidon to contain the body of Eshmunazar II (465-451), king of Sidon and son of king Tabnit. ... Originally the sarcophagus contained a hieroglyphic text that was replaced by the Phoenician inscription.5

Elayi (2006): Eshmunazor I...was succeeded by his son Tabnit who married his sister Amoashtart. Since Tabnit died before the birth of his son Eshmunazor II, the queen mother (HMLKT) Amoashtart assumed the interregnum until the birth, then the co-regency with her young son during his childhood. After that, Eshmunazor II reigned alone. At the end of his reign, he was succeeded by Bodashtart, who was the son of a brother (or a sister) of Tabnit and Amoashtart. ... We do not know exactly the length of the reigns of Eshmunazor I, Tabnit (it was short since he died before the birth of his son), Eshmunazor II (14 years, plus the Amoashtart interregnum, at least before his birth) and Bodashtart (more than 7 years, possibly 10/12 years). The sarcophagi were taken back from Egypt to Sidon by Tabnit (or Eshmunazor I) for him and his successors rather than the reverse (by Eshmunazor II for him and his ancestors) because the writing had changed from the inscription of Tabnit to that of Eshmunazor II. The transportation of the sarcophagi necessarily took place before 525 when their manufacture was stopped, probably between about 569 and 525, period for the manufacture of these types of sarcophagi. ... From the present available documentation, we can propose the following approximate chronology for the so-called dynasty of Eshmunazor: Eshmunazor I (2nd quarter of the 6th cent.), Tabnit (2nd or 3rd quarter of the 6th cent.), Amoashtart and Eshmunazor II (3rd quarter of the 6th cent.), Bodashtart (4th quarter of the 6th cent.)....6

1. Image: Eric Chan, Eshmunazar II sarcophagus, Wikimedia Commons, 31 August 2007, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Codex 99, Sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II, 12 January 2009, Updated 27 December 2011, (accessed ...).

3. Transliteration: Ola Wikander, Don’t Push this Button: Phoenician Sarcophagi, Atomic Priesthoods and Nuclear Waste, in Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund. Årsbok 2015. (Lund University), ed. Henrik Rahm (Lund, SE: Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund, 2015),Årsbok_2015_ (accessed ...), p. 121, n. 3.

4. Translation: Wikander, p. 109.

5. Note: Jean-Claude Haelewyck, The Phoenician Inscription of Eshmunazar: An Attempt at Vocalization, Université catholique de Louvain BABELAO 1 (2012), (accessed ...), p. 79.

6. Note: Josette Elayi, An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BCE), Transeuphratène: Recherches pluridisciplinaires sur une province de l'Empire achéménide 32 (Peeters, 2006), (accessed ...), 1. Kings of Sidon.

Tabnit Sarcophagus [KAI 13, 1887] (6th-5th Century BCE, ca. 500), Sidon

Tabnit Sarcophagus | Ken Grubb

Tabnit Sarcophagus; Ken Grubb. Source: Grubb (2012).1

Tabnit Sarcophagus Inscription | oncenawhile

Tabnit Sarcophagus Inscription; oncenawhile. Source: Wikimedia Commons.2

Tabnit Sarcophagus Inscription | PROEL

Tabnit Sarcophagus Inscription; PROEL. Source: PROEL.3

ʾnk tbnt khn ʿštrt mlk ṣdnm bn
ʾšmnʿzr khn ʿštrt mlk ṣdnm škb bʾrn
z / my ʾt kl ʾdm ʾš tpq ʾyt hʾrn z / ʾl ʾl t-
ptḥ ʿlty wʾl trgzn / k ʾy ʾr ln ksp / ʾy ʾr ln
ḥrṣ wkl mnm mšr / blt ʾnk škb bʾrn z / ʾl ʾl tpt-
ḥ ʿlty wʾl trgzn k tʿbt ʿštrt hdbr hʾ / wʾm pt-
ḥ tptḥ ʿlty wrgz trgzn / ʾl y<k>n l<k> zrʿ bḥym tḥt šm-
š wmškb ʾt rpʾm
I [ʾnk] Tabnit [tbnt], priest [khn] of ʿAshtart [ʿštrt], king [mlk] of the Sidonians [ṣdnm], son [bn]
of ʾEshmunʿazor [ʾšmnʿzr], priest [khn] of ʿAshtart [ʿštrt], king [mlk] of the Sidonians [ṣdnm], am lying [škb] in this coffin [bʾrn z].
Whoever you are [my ʾt], any man [kl ʾdm] who [ʾš] comes upon [tpq] this coffin [ʾyt hʾrn z], do not, do not [ʾl ʾl]
open [tptḥ] my cover [ʿlty] and [do not] [wʾl] disturb me [trgzn], for [k] no silver is gathered with/for me [ʾy ʾr ln ksp] (and) no gold is gathered with/for me [ʾy ʾr ln ḥrṣ]
or any kind of riches [wkl mnm mšr]. I alone [blt ʾnk] am lying [škb] in this coffin [bʾrn z]. Do not, do not [ʾl ʾl] open [tptḥ]
my cover [ʿlty] and [do not] [wʾl] disturb me [trgzn], for [k] such a thing would be an abomination to ʿAshtart! [tʿbt ʿštrt hdbr hʾ] But if [wʾm]
you do open [ptḥ tptḥ] my cover [ʿlty] and [do] disturb me [wrgz trgzn], may you have no seed [ʾl ykn lk zrʿ] among the living [bḥym] under [tḥt] the sun [šmš]
or a resting place [wmškb] with [ʾt] the shades [rpʾm]

Transliteration source: Haelewyck (2011).4 Translation source: Dixon (2013).5


Wikipedia: The Tabnit sarcophagus is the sarcophagus of the Phoenician king Tabnit (Tennes) of Sidon (ca. 490 BCE), the father of King Eshmunazar II. The sarcophagus is decorated with two separate and unrelated inscriptions – one in Egyptian hieroglyphics and one in Phoenician script. ...During the excavation, the workmen opened the Tabnit sarcophagus and found a human body floating in perfect preservation in a peculiar fluid. Whilst Hamdi Bey was at lunch, the workmen overturned the sarcophagus and poured the fluid out, such that the secret of the wonderful fluid was again hidden in the Sidon sand.6

Dixon (2013): Tabnit’s “mummy” was discovered in 1887 as part of the intact burial of this king, and is currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.7 Dixon (2013): Although largely reduced to his skeletal frame, Tabnit’s body still retains traces of skin, hair, and internal organs. ... Perhaps most remarkable are the remains of the internal organs, which, although blackened and shrunken with the drying process, seem surprisingly complete. ... It is impossible to tell what, if anything, was removed from the body cavity of these remains. ... While the methods used by Phoenicians to preserve their dead are not well understood, this material offers strong evidence that at the very least, some Persian period kings were prepared for burial in such a way as to attempt preservation of their soft tissues.8 Dixon (2013): Additional textual evidence for the practice of mummification in the Phoenician homeland is the white marble sarcophagus fragment from Byblos, dated to the 6th century BCE, and discussed in Chapter III [image on p. 170]. The first line, as interpreted by Cross, reads: ...]n ʾnk lhdy wkn hn ʾnk škb bʾrn zn ʾsp bmr wbbdl[ḥ... [I (PN and titulary) lie in this sarcophagus], I alone, and here, behold I lie prepared for burial in myrrh and bdellium....9

Dixon (2013): [The] black basalt sarcophagus, thought to have been produced in Egypt (and procured as plunder), and still bearing a hieroglyphic inscription labeling its intended use by an Egyptian general named Pen-Ptah, for an early 5th century king of Sidon, ...preserving the hieroglyphic text above them.10 Dixon (2013): The lid features an Egyptian-style face-mask and chest decoration, as well as a hieroglyphic inscription mentioning the Egyptian general Pen-Ptah. The Phoenician inscription added to the bottom of the lid identifies Tabnit first as a priest of ‘Ashtart, and secondly as king of the Sidonians.11

Nitschke (2007): The anthropoid-style coffin is a type that originated in Egypt, emerging originally in the third millennium out of mummification practices. The earliest anthropoid sarcophagi depicted the mummified body on the lid. By the later New Kingdom period (ca. fourteenth century), the paradigm shifted whereby the deceased were represented as they appeared in life. ... Three of these Egyptian sarcophagi manufactured during the twenty-sixth dynasty were apparently acquired by the Sidonians, perhaps as a result of Phoenician participation in Cambyses’ conquest of Egypt in 525 B.C. They were reused to bury the Sidonian King Tibnit and his son, the the later King Eshmunazar (II).12 (Nitschke (2007): The third sarcophagus brought from Egypt was used to house an as yet unidentified queen.13)

1. Image: Ken Grubb, Sarcophagus of Sidonian King Tabnit, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey Central, 26 August 2012, (accessed ...).

2. Image: oncenawhile, Tabnit phoenician, Wikimedia Commons, 4 August 2014, (accessed ...).

3. Drawing: Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL), Alfabeto Fenicio, (accessed ...), Inscripción de Tabnit (siglo V a. C.).

4. Transliteration: Jean-Claude Haelewyck, L’inscription phénicienne de Tabnit (KAI 13): Essai de vocalisation, Res Antiquae 8 (2011), (accessed ...), pp. 4-10.

5. Translation: Helen M. Dixon, Phoenician Mortuary Practice in the Iron Age I – III (ca. 1200 – ca. 300 BCE) Levantine “Homeland” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013), (accessed ...), p. 180.

6. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Tabnit sarcophagus, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Dixon, pp. 181-182.

8. Ibid., pp. 550-553.

9. Ibid., pp. 547-548.

10. Ibid., p. 180.

11. Ibid., p. 561.

12. Note: Jessica Lynn Nager Nitschke, Perceptions of Culture: Interpreting Greco-Near Eastern Hybridity in the Phoenician Homeland (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2007), (accessed ...), pp. 71-72.

13. Ibid., p. 72, n. 184.

Bodashtart Inscriptions [KAI 15-16, 1858] (6th Century BCE), Sidon

Bodashtart KAI 15 A Bodashtart KAI 15 B
Bodashtart KAI 15 D Bodashtart RES 766
Fig. 16
Fig. 17 Bodashtart CIS I 4

Bodashtart Inscriptions. Source: Bordreuil, Gubel (1990).1-8


Wikipedia: The Bodashtart inscriptions are a well-known group of between 22–24 Phoenician inscriptions from the 6th century BC referring to King Bodashtart.9

1. Image: P. Bordreuil and E. Gubel, Bulletin d'antiquités archéologiques du Levant inédites ou méconnues VI Syria LXVII (1990), (accessed ...), p. 494, Fig. 11: Inscription de Bodachtart (AO 3552). (Photo Chuzeville).

2. Ibid., p. 494, Fig. 12: Inscription de Bodachtart (AO 3553).

3. Ibid., p. 495, Fig. 13: Inscription de Bodachtart (AO 4078).

4. Ibid., p. 496, Fig. 14: Inscription de Bodachtart (AO 4077).

5. Ibid., p. 497, Fig. 15: Inscription de Bodachtart (Musée de l'Université américaine de Beyrouth) (photo d'aprés N. Jidéjian) Sidon through the Ages (Beyrouth 1969, nᵒ 183).

6. Ibid., p. 498, Fig. 16: Inscription de Bodachtart, Musée d'Instanboul.

7. Ibid., p. 498, Fig. 17: Inscription de Bodachtart, Musée d'Instanboul.

8. Ibid., p. 502, Fig. 18: Inscription de Bodachtart II CIS I, 4 (AO 4838).

9. Wikipedia, s.v. Bodashtart inscriptions, (accessed ...).

Shipitbaal III aka Son of Shipitbaal aka Son of Shipitbaal III [KAI 9] (6th Century BCE, ca. 500), Byblos

Shipitbaal III | Onceinawhile

Shipitbaal III; Onceinawhile. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1 (Image of Fragments A, B, and C: Helen M. Dixon [2013], p. 173, Figure III.3. Drawing of the Fragment B: Christopher A. Rollston [2019], p. 41.)


Fragment A
...[So]n of Šipit-Baal, king of Byblos, I made for myself this resting place [mškb]...
... ??? coffin on/over coffin [ʾrn ʿlt ʾrn]. Thus I made... this resting place, (in) which I lie, and in [this] place...
...for me (?)... among the great. And I gave...
...[you should not op]en this [resting place over me(?)], to disturb my bones...
Fragment B
...on the side of [this] resting place...
...QR, the resting place, which you [open...]
...T coffin. And over the coffin...
...M and Baal Addir and Baalat and all [the gods of Byblos...]
...Baalat and all [the gods of Byblos...]

Translation source, Dixon (2013): The inscription, found in 1929 on the grounds of the Crusader castle at Byblos, originally existed in three pieces labeled A, B, and C [Dunand 1939]. Fragment C was eventually joined with fragment B [Milik in Dunand 1954] such that the content of the surviving characters may be reconstructed as [above].2


Dixon (2013): Also from Byblos comes the royal inscription made by the son of a Shipitbaal, identified as Shipitbaal III by most scholars.3

Sader (2019): The inscription of the son of Shipitbaal (KAI 9) is very fragmentary. It is a funerary inscription that reveals the name of a king of Byblos called Shipitbaal and referred to as Shipitbaal III. The name of his successor is lost in the break.4

Elayi (2006): A major difficulty in establishing the chronology of the Byblian kings is that none of their inscriptions (monumental or monetary) are dated by their years of reign. The last known king before the Persian period was Milkyasap mentioned in the Annals of Esarhaddon. The first king known to us, having reigned at the beginning of the Persian period, was Shipitbaal III (ŠPṬBʿL), since there were two others: Shipitbaal I (around 900) and Shipitbaal II (around 740). Shipitbaal III is mentioned in a royal inscription of his son.... The...inscription is lacunary and we cannot say for certain whether he actually reigned; it has been dated around 500, basing on palaeographical grounds, which remains approximate. ... We...use the mention of Shipitbaal III as a king of Byblos with caution....5

1. Image: Onceinawhile, National Museum of Beirut – fragments of stela of Shipitba'al III, Wikimedia Commons, 27 November 2019,–_fragments_of_stela_of_Shipitba%27al_III.jpg (accessed ...).

2. Translation: Helen M. Dixon, Phoenician Mortuary Practice in the Iron Age I – III (ca. 1200 – ca. 300 BCE) Levantine “Homeland” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013), (accessed ...), pp. 173-174.

3. Note: Dixon, p. 173.

4. Note: Hélène Sader, The History and Archaeology of Phoenicia (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 84.

5. Note: Josette Elayi, An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BCE), Transeuphratène: Recherches pluridisciplinaires sur une province de l'Empire achéménide 32 (Peeters, 2006), (accessed ...), 3. Kings of Byblos.

Pyrgi Tablets [KAI 277, 1964] (6th Century BCE, ca. 500), Italy

Pyrgi Tablets; Sailko. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Pyrgi Tablets. Source: Agostini, Zavaroni (2000).2

lrbt lʿštrt ʾšr qdš
ʾz ʾš pʿl wʾš ytn
tbryʾ. wlnš mlk ʿl
kyšryʾ. byrḥ. zbḥ
šmš bmtn ʾbbt wbn
tw. k ʿštrt. ʾrš. bdy
lmlky šnt šlš III by-
rḥ krr bym qbr
ʾlm wšnt lmʾš ʾlm
bbty šnt km hkkbm
To lady [lrbt], to Astarte [lʿštrt], this is the holy place [ʾšr qdš ʾz]
which [ʾš] has made [pʿl] and offered [wʾš ytn]
Thefarie Velianas [tbryʾ wlnš], king/reigning [mlk] over [ʿl]
Caere [kyšryʾ], in the month [byrḥ] of Sacrifice(s) [zbḥ]
to the Sun [šmš]
, as an offering in the sanctuary [bmtn ʾbbt]. And I have constructed it [wbn tw]
because [k] Astarte [ʿštrt] has asked me to [ʾrš bdy],
(in the) third year of my reign [lmlky šnt šlš III], in the month [byrḥ]
of Kirar [krr], on the day [bym] of the burial [qbr]
of the divinity [ʾlm]
. And the years [wšnt] of the statue [lmʾš] of the divinity [ʾlm]
in my/his(?) temple [bbty] may be as (numerous) years [šnt] as these stars [km hkkbm ʾl].

Transliteration and translation source: Zamora (2015-2016).3


Agostini, Zavaroni (2000): In 1964, the archaeologists excavating the ancient Etruscan city of Pyrgi brought to light three golden plates. Two of the plates were written in Etruscan, while the third one had a Phoenician inscription on it. ... Scholars' hopes that the promising text of the Etruscan plate might have been an Etruscan kind of Rosetta stone were dashed to the ground. They realized very soon that the two texts were—at best—a paraphrasis of each other but they contained no literal translation which might have offered a key to Etruscan hermeneutics.4

Schmitz (2007): One of the impediments facing a convincing interpretation of the Phoenician text is word division. Centered dots between letters puncuate the Phoenician text at (probably) four places, but the meaning of this punctuation is uncertain. Otherwise, word division is not indicated. (Phoenician is commonly written without word division; Punic generally spaces words.) Determining the word division of the Pyrgi text is not very difficult except in one or two places. In my judgment, the most difficult portion of the text with respect to word division is the first part of line 5. The transliterated letters of the text are these: šmšbmtnʾbbt. The Phoenician word šmš sun readily distinguishes itself as part of a month name zbh# šmš...also found in a Phoenician inscription from Larnaca. ... The next segment of line 5 is difficult. Garbini initially read bmtnʾbbt.... In the following year Garbini proposed the alternative reading bmtn ʾbbt. ... The word mtn is unusual as a free form in Phoenician and Punic. The anticipated spelling is mtt in Phoenician and mtnt in Punic.5

1. Image: Sailko, Lamine d'oro in lingua etrusca e fenicia con dedica di un luogo sacro a pyrgi, Wikimedia Commons, 6 September 2017, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Paolo Agostini and Adolfo Zavaroni, The Bilingual Phoenician-Estruscan Text of the Golden Plates of Pyrgi, Filologija (Zagreb University) 34 (2000), (accessed ...), p. 3, Plates A, B, C.

3. Transliteration and translation: José Á. Zamora, Pyrgi Revisited: An Analysis of the Structure and Formulae of the Phoenician Text of Pyrgi, Studi Epigrafici e Linguistici [SEL] 32-33 (2015-2016), (accessed ...), pp. 71, 77.

4. Note: Paolo Agostini and Adolfo Zavaroni, p. 9.

5. Note: Philip C. Schmitz, Adonis in the Phoenician Text from Pyrgi? A New Reading of KAI 277.5, Etruscan News 8 (Summer 2007), (accessed ...), p. 9.

Malta Stele [KAI 61A, 1820] (8th-7th Century BCE), Malta

Malta Stele | Mikestravelguide

Malta Stele; Mikestravelguide. Source:

Malta Stele | Nicholas C. Vella

Malta Stele; Nicholas C. Vella. Source: Amadasi Guzzo, Zamora López (2012).2

nṣb mlk
bʿl ʾš š-
m nḥm lb-
ʿl ḥmn ʾ-
dn kšmʿ
ql dbry
Stela [nṣb]—of [commemorating] a sacrifice
of a bʿl [mlk bʿl]—that [ʾš]
nḥm set up [šm nḥm]
for Baʿl Hamon [lbʿl ḥmn],
the Lord [ʾdn]. Indeed he [the Lord] heard [kšmʿ]
the voice [ql] of his [nḥm's] words [dbry]

Transliteration and translation source, Amadasi Guzzo, Zamora López (2012-2013): Inscription...presenting the term nṣb and the expression mlk bʿl: Stela from Malta..., 7th c. BCE. 1-6: nṣb mlk bʿl ʾš šm PN lbʿl ḥmn ʾdn kšmʿ ql dbry Stela of a mlk of a person that X set up for Baʿl Hamon, the Lord. Indeed he heard the voice of his words.3


Dixon (2013): Two controversial votive stelae dating to the early 7th century come from a field near Rabat Mdina in Malta, where they were discovered in 1820. [John] Gibson wrote in 1982 of their convoluted history: ... The first stele [KAI 61A], of which a photograph and several sketches were taken last century, was thought to have been lost, but it has recently been found intact in the National Museum in Valletta.... The second stele [KAI 61B], apparently in a much worse state of preservation, was jealously guarded by the local family into whose possession it came, and eventually disappeared; it was never photographed and is known now only from a single...drawing of the artifact. The stelae are undecorated aside from their inscriptions, which read: A) Stele [nṣb] of mlk bˁl which Nahum erected for Baal Hamon, lord, because he heard the voice of his words; B) Stele [nṣb] of mlk ʾmr which [Ar]sh erec[ted] for Baal [Hammon], lord, [because he] heard the voice of his w[ords].4

Amadasi Guzzo, Zamora López (2012-2013): mlk is almost certainly a noun...with the meaning “sacrificial offering”......the use of which – as far as is known – has become specific for the offerings carried out in a tophet. It is also probable that this term underlies the biblical Molok, (con)fused perhaps with the divine name Mlk (Milk), formed from the same consonants – but related to the root mlk, “to be king”. ... Although the expression denoting the offering is not completely clear, its general interpretation is as follows: a person – the offerer – has placed a stela that commemorates a mlk, “sacrifice” consisting either of a bʿl (as we shall see, a disputed term) or of a lamb (ʾmr). ... The exact meaning of the name of the offering seems to be more uncertain. In the same place as the expression mlk bʿl, one finds mlk ʾdm, which seems to have had a similar meaning. ... The semantic field of bʿl is wide, ranging from “lord” and “citizen” to a more generic meaning: e. g. bʿl zbḥ, which occurs in several inscriptions, is not “the lord of sacrifice”, but simply “he who sacrifices” (the one who offers the sacrifice, not the one who performs it, who instead is called zbḥ, a participle). Therefore, the noun bʿl could have a meaning such as “person”. The most usual meaning of ʾdm is “individual, human being”. We may therefore conclude that what was offered was either a lamb or a human being. ... After the formula of offering to the god(s), the texts sometimes – as already mentioned – have an expression of thanksgiving because the deity had listened to the donor’s prayer: k šmʿ ql dbry, “indeed [the god] has heard the voice of his words”, in inscriptions up to the 5th century.5

Dixon (2013): The...terms mlk bʿl [on the first stele] and mlk ʾmr [on the second stele] have been the subject of a long-standing and sprited scholarly debate.... Many scholars have framed the debate by asserting the term mlk in these contexts necessarily refers to some kind of sacrifice, others...reject the identification of mlk with sacrificial vocabulary.6

Azevedo (1994): 700 BC.7

1. Image:, Things to do in Malta – Visit the National Museum of Archaeology, 12 October 2019, (accessed ...), A stele of limestone with Phoenician inscription.

2. Image: Maria Giulia Amadasi Guzzo and José Ángel Zamora López, The Epigraphy of the Tophet, Studi Epigrafici e Linguistici [SEL] 29-30 (2012-2013), (accessed ...), p. 188, Fig. 4: Inscription from the oldest period presenting the term nṣb and the expressionmlk bʿl: Stela from Malta CIS I 123a, 7th c. BCE (original photo and drawing from VELLA 2013: fig. 2-3).

3. Transliteration and translation: Amadasi Guzzo and Zamora López, p. 188.

4. Note: Helen M. Dixon, Phoenician Mortuary Practice in the Iron Age I – III (ca. 1200 – ca. 300 BCE) Levantine “Homeland” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013), (accessed ...), p. 122.

5. Note: Amadasi Guzzo and Zamora López, pp. 169-175.

6. Note: Dixon, p. 123.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 111.

Seville Astarte Statuette aka Diosa Astarté Sevilla [KAI 294, 1963] (8th Century BCE, ca. 750), Spain

Seville Astarte Statuette and Inscription

Seville Astarte Statuette and Inscription. Source: Knott (2014).1

Seville Astarte Statuette

Seville Astarte Statuette Inscription. Source: Junta de Andalucía.2

Seville Astarte Statuette | Fernando Muñoz

Seville Astarte Statuette Inscription; Fernando Muñoz. Source: PhotoBlog.3

(Drawing of the inscription, Frank Moore Cross [2003], p. 274, Fig. 40.1: here and here.)

𐤍𐤎𐤀 𐤀𐤎 𐤐𐤏𐤋 𐤁𐤏𐤋[𐤉]𐤕𐤍
𐤁𐤍 𐤃𐤏𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤅𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤁
𐤍 𐤃𐤏𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤁𐤍𐤉𐤔𐤀𐤋 𐤋
𐤏𐤔𐤕𐤓𐤕𐤇𐤓 𐤓𐤁𐤕𐤍 𐤊
𐤔𐤌𐤏 𐤒𐤋 𐤃[𐤁𐤓]𐤍𐤌
nsʾ ʾs pʿl bʿl[y]tn
bn dʿmlk wʿbdbʿl b
n dʿmlk bnyšʾl l
ʿštrtḥr rbtn k
šmʿ ql d[br]nm
The offering which Baʿlyatōn
son of Duʿmmilk and ʿAbdbaʿl
son of Duʿmmilk the Šaʾūlids made for
ʿAšart-Ḥōr, our lady; for
she heard their prayers.

Transliteration and translation source: Cross (1971).4


Cross (1971): A bronze statuette...portrays a naked goddess with a modified Ḥatḥor hair style. She is seated, her feet resting on a pedestal which is inscribed with five lines of old Phoenician writing. The writing surface...unhappily is marred by bronze disease, that is, by corrosion which swells and flakes. The figurine with its inscription was published by J. M. Sola-Sola in 1966 in an excellent paper which dated the inscription (and the statuette) in the first half of the eighth century BCE...and went far in deciphering the difficult text.5

Knott (2014): Phoenician merchants left behind alphabetic inscriptions across the Mediterranean, as far west as Spain.6

Azevedo (1994): 750 BC.7

1. Image: Elizabeth Knott, Alphabet Origins: From Kipling to Sinai, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 22 December 2014 (accessed ...), Bronze statuette of the goddess Astarte from Spain and detail of the Phoenician inscription on the footstool. El Carambolo (?), Camas, Seville. Phoenician, 8th–7th century B.C. Museo Arqueológico de Sevilla, Seville (11.136).

2. Image: Junta de Andalucía, Astarte de «El Carambolo». Who´s that girl?, 27 June 2016,´s-that-girl/ (accessed ...), La figurita en bronce de la diosa Astarte.

3. Image: Fernando Muñoz (fermuor), Astarté #4, 27 February 2009, (accessed ...).

4. Transliteration and translation: Frank Moore Cross, The Old Phoenician Inscription from Spain Dedicated to Hurrian Astarte [1971], in Leaves from an Epigrapher's Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003), (accessed ...), p. 273.

5. Note: Ibid.

6. Note: Knott.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 110.

Baal Lebanon Inscription aka Limassol Bowl aka Limassol Paterae [KAI 31, 1881] (8th Century BCE, ca. 775), Cyprus

Baal Lebanon Inscription
Baal Lebanon Inscription

Baal Lebanon Inscription. Source: Zamora López (2015).1,2

Baal Lebanon Inscription | Edward Clodd

Baal Lebanon Inscription; Edward Clodd. Source: Edward Clodd (1900).3



𐤈𐤁 𐤎𐤊𐤍 𐤒𐤓𐤕𐤇𐤃𐤔𐤕
[𐤋𐤁]𐤏𐤋 𐤋𐤁𐤍𐤍 𐤀𐤃𐤍𐤉
]skn qrtḥ-
dšt ʿbd ḥr-
m mlk ʿdnm ʾz yt-
n lbʿl lbnn
brʾšt nḥšt h[
brʾšt nḥšt ḥ[
]ṭb skn qrtḥdšt [... ... ... ...
... ... ... ....lbʿ]l lbnn ʾdny

The governor [skn] of Qartihadasht [qrtḥdšt],
servant [ʿbd] of Hiram [ḥrm],
king [mlk] of the Sidonians [ʿdnm], gave this [z ytn]
to Baal [lbʿl] of Lebanon [lbnn],
his Lord [ʾdny],

best [brʾšt] copper/bronze [nḥšt]...

...the governor [skn] of Qartihadasht [qrtḥdšt]...
...[to Ba]al [lbʿl] of Lebanon [lbnn] his Lord [ʾdny]...

Transliteration and translation source, Steele (2013): Although usually classed as a single inscription, the fragments come from two different bowls and so should be treated as separate texts even though they are clearly closely related in origin, content and palaeography.4


Zerbe (1911): One of the most interesting of all inscriptions is the so-called Baal Lebanon, found at Limassol, Cyprus, but supposed by some to belong originally to a temple of Baal not far from Sidon. The inscription, or rather inscriptions (for there are eight fragments of thin bronze) formed parts of bowls or paternae, used for ceremonial purposes. Six of the these fragments pieced together form...the translation below; the remaining pieces...may have belonged to another bowl.5

Zamora López (2015): The Phoenicio-Punic corpus, made up of a relatively large number of texts (over 10,000) mostly consists of formulaic documents and therefore repetitive – and frequently laconic – texts. However, as we shall see, inscriptions do provide relevant testimonies regarding metals. Indeed, texts mention silver, ksp, as well as gold, ḥrṣ, lead, ʿprt, or iron, brzl. Relevantly to this contribution, Phoenician inscriptions also allude to bronze. The Phoenician word for bronze was nḥšt. In fact, it could also be translated as “copper”, as both terms seem to be interchangeable in the Phoenician language.6

Azevedo (1994): 775 BC.7

1. Image: José Ángel Zamora López, Bronze and Metallurgy in Phoenician Sources, in Phoenician Bronzes in Mediterranean, ed. Javier Jiménez Ávila (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 2015), (accessed ...), p. 32, Fig 2: Exploded view of the fragments of Limassol paterae and position in which they appeared.

2. Ibid., p. 35, Fig 3: Reassembling of fragments A to F of Limassol paterae and reconstruction of the object.

3. Drawing: Edward Clodd, Inscription on Sacred Bowls (Baal Lebanon), in The Story of the Alphabet (London: George Newnes, 1900), (accessed ...), p. 146, Fig 52.

4. Note: ZPhilippa M. Steele, A Linguistic History of Ancient Cyprus: The Non-Greek Languages, and their Relations with Greek, ca. 1600-300 BC (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), (accessed ...), p. 231.

5. Note: ZAlvin Sylvester Zerbe, The Antiquity of Hebrew Writing and Literature: Or, Problems in Pentateuchal Criticism (Cleveland: Central Publishing House, 1911), (accessed ...).

6. Note: Zamora López,, pp. 30-31.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 110.

Kition Bowl [KAI 30, ????] (9th Century BCE, ca. 800), Cyprus

Kition Bowl

Kition Bowl. Source: CREWS Project.1

Kition Bowl Inscription | Christopher A. Rollston

Kition Bowl Inscription; Christopher A. Rollston. Source: Rollston (2008).2

[𐤊]𐤓 𐤌𐤋𐤔 𐤏𐤓𐤆 [𐤊]𐤋𐤁 𐤅𐤉𐤐𐤂 [𐤋𐤐𐤍 𐤏𐤔]𐤕𐤓𐤕 𐤅𐤏[𐤓𐤆]

𐤅𐤉𐤕 𐤏𐤓[𐤆 𐤅]𐤉𐤕 𐤌𐤋𐤔 𐤅𐤐[𐤂 𐤊𐤋𐤁]

𐤏𐤓[𐤆 𐤀𐤉]𐤕 𐤁[𐤋] 𐤌𐤋𐤔 𐤏𐤃𐤃

[?𐤏] 𐤌𐤋𐤔 [𐤐𐤂] ........ 𐤁𐤍𐤃[𐤉 𐤉]𐤕 𐤌𐤋𐤔 [𐤏𐤓𐤆]

[[? 𐤍][[𐤑 𐤔]] 𐤀 𐤄𐤃[𐤓]

Incantation. Poke the dog so that it slumps [before As]tarte, and p[oke(?)...

When it comes, poke it and let it come (again). Incantation. And the [dog(?) is slum]ped...

Poke the decrepit one! Incantation. Recite...

Incantation. Poke the sl[umped one(?)]! (Seven or eight short vertical strokes) When ⟨it⟩ rises let it come. Incantation. Po[ke...

]...[ ]...[


Transliteration and translation source, Coote (1975): The inscription is incomplete on the left. On the right there is no margin, the second and third lines beginning at different points well to the left of the beginning of the first line, and the fourth, fifth, and sixth at different points to the right of it. [André] Dupont-Sommer correctly recognized a reš [at the far right of the first line] and before that a long-tailed letter. Because the letters in this inscription are otherwise regularly spaced, the gap that separates these two letters from the mem in line 1 indicates that they are the end of a line that stretched off into the broken area on the right. The same seems to be indicated by an ʿayin before the gap at the beginning of line 4. The inscription thus originally comprised six continuous lines with occasional caesurae circling the entire outer surface of the bowl.3


Ioannou (2015): At Kition another inscription has been found, dating back to the 9th century BC, from which the temple of Astarte was identified. Reading this inscription is difficult, but the name of the goddess can be recognized. Although different interpretations have been suggested, researchers agree that the inscription is of votive character to the goddess Astarte and that the devotee was from Tamassos. ... Tamassos holds a key position in terms of Phoenician and Cypriote relations, due to its copper deposits in the greater area, one of the main reasons for the presence of the Phoenicians in the 9th century BC on the island.4

Azevedo (1994): 800 BC.5

1. Image: CREWS Project, A bowl of red slip ware from the Temple of Astarte at Kition, Cyprus, early 8th C BC, Twitter, 8 December 2018, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Christopher A. Rollston, The Phoenician Script of the Tel Zayit Abecedary and Putative Evidence for Israelite Literacy, in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, ed. Ron Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), (accessed ...), p. 87, Fig. 12: Kition Bowl (Drawing by Christopher Rollston).

3. Transliteration and translation: Robert B. Coote, The Kition Bowl, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 220 (December 1975), href=" (accessed ...).

4. Note: Christina Ioannou, Cypriotes and Phoenicians, Kyprios Character: History, Archaeology & Numismatics of Ancient Cyprus, 25 August 2015, (accessed ...), The Phoenicians and Cyprus prior to the 8th century.

5. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Nora Stone [KAI 46, 1773] (10th-9th Century BCE, ca. 925-825), Sardinia

Nora Stone | Olaf Tausch

Nora Stone; Olaf Tausch. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

wgrš hʾ
bšrdn š-
lm hʾ šl-
m ṣbʾ m-
lktn bn
šbn ngd
From Tarshish [btršš]
he was driven; [wgrš hʾ]
in Sardinia [bšrdn] he
found refuge, [šlm hʾ]
his forces found refuge; [šlm ṣb]
Milkuton [mlktn], son of [bn]
Shubon [šbn] the commander [ngd].
To (god) Pmy [lpmy].

Transliteration and translation source: Wikipedia.2


COJS: Discovered in 1773 in Nora, a city on the southern coast of Sardinia...the inscription begins “at Tarshish,” a common place-name derived from a Semitic root meaning “to smelt.” Tarshish may have been a Phoenician mining town in Sardinia. ... [Frank Moore] Cross dates the Nora Stone inscription to 825 BCE. He believes the Phoenicians sent an army to Sardinia that year to quell a local revolt and protect their mining interests in the area.3

Pilkington (2012): Interpretation of the Nora Stone divides into two positions. The division is based on different translations of the first line of extant text: בתרשש.... A first group of scholars sees the text as a religious document that deals with the foundation of a temple in Sardinia. ... A second group of scholars has argued that the text is a military document that records a Phoenician conquest in the area or some other form of military activity. ... Phoenician colonization in the eighth century has been interpreted as a relatively peaceful process.... However, the evidence from southwest Sardinia suggests an important disruption in sociopolitical organization. ... The pattern of destruction and southwestern Sardinia provides and indirect indication that Phoenician colonists and those chiefdoms in the immediate area of Nora Sulcis were unable to coexist.4 Pilkington (2012): The text constitutes the longest continuous inscription discovered from the earliest period of Phoenician colonization in Sardinia. Due to its unique nature, interpretation of the Nora Stone conditions any further analysis of Phoenician colonization in Sardinia.5

Azevedo (1994): 925-825 BC.6

1. Drawing: Olaf Tausch, Stele von Nora 07, Wikimedia Commons, 16 September 2017, (accessed ...).

2. Transliteration and translation: Wikipedia, s.v. Nora Stone, (accessed ...).

3. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], The Nora Stone, c. 831-785 BCE, (accessed ...).

4. Note: Nathan Pilkington, A Note on Nora and the Nora Stone, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 365 (February 2012), (accessed ...), p. 45.

5. Ibid.

6. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Bosa Fragment [????] (10th-9th century BCE, ca. 925-825), Sardinia

Bosa Fragment; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).1

𐤁𐤌𐤀𐤍 ro 𐤓𐤌𐤀𐤍
b/r m ʾ n

Transliteration source: Parker (2013, 2018).2


Parker (2013, 2018): The Bosa fragment was discovered in northwestern Sardinia in the area of Bosa. ... No definitive interpretation of the text is possible, as the fragment bears only four letters. ... Because its Phoenician script is comparable to that of both the Honeyman inscription and the Nora stone, the fragment should be dated palaeographically to the first half of the ninth century BCE [900-850]. Transliteration: b/r m ʾ n3

Cross (1987): Three old stelae of monumental size have been found in Sardinia: the Nora Stone, the Bosa Fragment, both of the second half of the ninth century [850-800], and the Nora Fragment of the eleventh century.4

Azevedo (1994): 925-825 BC.5

1. Drawing: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions, Pt. II (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), Fig. 7: The Bosa Fragment.

2. Transliteration: Parker, Part I, (accessed ...), p. 67.

3. Note: Ibid., p. 66.

4. Note: Frank Moore Cross, The Oldest Phoenician Inscription from Sardinia: The Fragmentary Stele from Nora [1987], in Leaves from an Epigrapher's Notebook: Collected Papers in Hebrew and West Semitic Palaeography and Epigraphy (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003), (accessed ...), p. 263.

5. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Honeyman Inscription [KAI 30, 1939] (10th Century BCE, ca. 900), Crete

Honeyman Inscription

Honeyman Inscription. Source: Ioannou (2015).1

Honeyman Inscription | Heather Dana Davis Parker

Honeyman Inscription; Heather Dana Davis Parker, West Semitic Research Project. Source: Parker (2016, 2019).2

Honeyman Inscription | Heather Dana Davis Parker

Honeyman Inscription; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).3

] ?156b157ʾ |/r158ʾy | mpt/l159 | wh160ʾš | ʾšʾ161
] 162 b163n164 |lqbr|zʾ|k165ʿl|hgbr|zʾ166
] 167 šy|wyʾbd|h[ ]m/b|s/ʾl168ʾyt|hʾ
] 169 bn | yd | bʿl | wbn | yd | ʾdm | wb
] b170r171 ʾlm172 |wy[ ]r|[ ]ny|l
] 173 l/ʾlyt174 [ ]ʿ[ ]ʾp|l[]š175
] šm176 [ ] y177 l n m/n/p l pny |178[ ]179
                                             ] y[ ]zʾ
............... something of note. And the man who ......
......... to this grave, then over this man ...
......... and destroys ............ this ...
... by the hand of Ba‘al or by the hand of a man or b[y]...
... the company of the gods....................................

(6-8 are not translatable).

Transliteration and translation source: Parker (2013), pp. 51-53: Transliteration and translation source: Parker (2013, 2018), pp. 52-54: 156 Others read “w” or “š”. 157 Others read “h”. 158 Others read a word divider. 159 Most read “t”; “l” is also a possibility. 160 Others read “r” or “h”. 161 No one previously has raised the possibility of an ʾalep for this letter. 162 Albright and Dupont-Sommer draw a word divider here, but it is not in their transliterations. Masson and Sznycer read a word divider. 163 Honeyman, Masson and Sznycer, and Gibson do not read this letter. KAI has nothing in its transliteration but has “b” in its drawing. Dupont-Sommer has nothing certain in his transliteration but has “b” in his drawing. 164 Others read “m” (Dupont-Sommer and KAI have “m” in their transliterations but “n” in their drawings.) 165 Honeyman reads “š”. 166 Others read a word divider at the end of this line. 167 Honeyman reads “n” here. 168 There is a deep gouge here, and a significant portion of the surface area is missing. Most of the readings for this area are either reconstructions or, at best, extrapolations from small traces at the edges of the gouge. In this space between the letters “h” and “ʾyt”: Honeyman reads “ m ʾ | ”. Albright, Dupont-Sommer, and KAI read “z ʾ | ”. Masson and Sznycer read “ | z ʾ ”. Masson and Sznycer read “ | z ʾ ”. Müller reads “| z ʾ |”. Gibson reads “ z ʾ ”. 169 Masson and Sznycer read a word divider here. 170 Others read ʾalep. 171 Albright draws a word divider here, but it is not in his transliteration. Masson and Sznycer, Müller, and KAI 30. (2002, page 8) also read a word divider here. 172 In this line after “ ʾlm ”: Honeyman reads“[......]|[..] ʿny|l”. Albright and KAI 30 ([1962], page 7) read “| [......] | [p?] ʿmy | l”. KAI 30 ([2002], 8) reads “|[......] | l--y | l”. Dupont-Sommer reads “| [......] | [w] ʿmy | l”. Masson and Sznycer and Müller read “| [......] | l- -y | l”. Gibson reads “[......] | l[..]y | l”. 173 Albright and Müller do not read past line five. Others read only some of the letters in lines six-eight. 174 In this area Masson and Sznycer and Gibson and KAI (2002) read “| ʾyt |”. They do not read anything else in this line except the “š” at the end. 175 In line six Honeyman, Dupont-Sommer, and KAI (1962) read only the “š”. 176 In this line KAI 30 (2002) reads only five letters, while Masson and Sznycer and Gibson read five letters and a. word divider. (See the following notes with regard to the letters they read.) Here they read “ šm ”. 177 Masson and Sznycer, Gibson, and KAI (2002) read this “y”. 178 Masson and Sznycer and Gibson read this “ny |”. KAI (2002) reads “ny” but not a word divider after. 179 Honeyman, Dupont-Sommer, and KAI (1962) read “| lyn” in the latter half of the line. No one offers a transliteration or drawing past line seven.4


Parker (2013), pp. 49-50: Parker (2013, 2018), p. 51: The Honeyman inscription (KAI 30; Gibson III:12) was discovered by A. M. Honeyman in 1939, in the collection of the Cyprus (Archaeological) Museum (#397) in Nicosia, Cyprus. Its original provenance is unknown. ... The text is badly weathered and much of what remains is either difficult or impossible to read. There are at least eight lines of text, though the beginning and right edge of the inscription are missing, as well as possibly a few letters on the left.5

Ioannou (2015): The [Honeyman] inscription is cut on a grave stela and is intriguing both in respect of the date it is paleographically attributed to, i.e. 9th century BC, and in terms of its content. The inscribed grave stela refers to a Phoenician buried on the island by his/her relatives. Being in charge of his/her burial, they erected the stela while other elements indicate the high social position of the deceased. The content of the inscription also attests to the importance of the dead person. It is a text of seven lines which informs readers about the kind of disasters awaiting them if they attempt to violate the tomb.6

Azevedo (1994): 900 BC.7

1. Image: Christina Ioannou, Cypriotes and Phoenicians, Kyprios Character: History, Archaeology & Numismatics of Ancient Cyprus, 25 August 2015, (accessed ...), List of Illustrations, Fig. 2: Grave stele, 9th century BC, unknown provenence.

2. Image: Heather Dana Davis Parker, Teaching Epigraphy in the Digital Age, in Ancient Manuscripts in Digital Culture: Visualisation, Data Mining, Communication, ed. David Hamidović, Claire Clivaz, and Sarah Bowen Savant, Digital Biblical Studies 3 (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 209, Figure 9.18: Adobe Illustrator’s measurement tools being used on an image of the Honeyman inscription (Cyprus Archaeological Museum, No. 397).

3. Drawing: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions, Pt. II (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), Fig. 5: The Honeyman Inscription.

4. Transliteration and translation: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013), (accessed ...), pp. 51-53.

5. Note: Ibid., pp. 49-50.

4. Note: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), pp. ??.

5. Ibid., p. 51.

6. Note: Christina Ioannou, Cypriotes and Phoenicians, Kyprios Character: History, Archaeology & Numismatics of Ancient Cyprus, 25 August 2015, (accessed ...), The Phoenicians and Cyprus prior to the 8th century.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Tekke Bowl [????] (10th Century BCE, ca. 900), Crete

Tekke Bowl | Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports

Tekke Bowl; Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. Source: Bourogiannis (2018).1

Tekke Bowl Inscription | Frank Moore Cross

Tekke Bowl Inscription; Frank Moore Cross. Source: Rollston (2008).2

bn l[ʾnm]
Cup [ks]
of Sama... [šmʿ],
son [bn] of L... [lʾnm]

Transliteration source, Bourogiannis (2020): The eroded signs of the Phoenician inscription from Tekke resulted in different readings, although in essence most of them reproduce a similar syntax.... Two words are securely read: ks meaning vase or cup, and bn, meaning son. Both are presumably followed by two personal names, possibly Šmʿ or Šṣʿ and Lʾmn respectively. Although none of them has secure parallels among Phoenician personal names, the structure 'cup of x son of y' is common in Phoenician and would identify the inscription from Tekke as a declaration of ownership.3 Translation source, Sogas (2019): Tekke Tomb J, a chamber tomb which was started to be used in the tenth century BC, had two burials, probably separated by a generation, so that one of them dated to the early 9th century BC. Between two amphorae, a bronze hemispherical bowl with an inscription of twelve archaic Phoenician letters appeared. With reference to the meaning of the inscription, Sznycer’s provisional reading was ‘the bowl of X, son of Y’ and Cross contributed by proposing its reading as ‘Cup of Sama [], son of L []’.4

Cross (1993): ks. šmʿ[] bn lbnn Cup of Samaʿ[] son of Labanān.


Whitley (2001): Crete, or more precisely Knossos, is the findspot of the earliest Phoenician inscription to be found in Greece: the inscribed bronze bowl from Tekke tomb J, datable to around 900 BC.5

Rollston (2008): Although corrosion has damaged the letters, it appears that the inscription consists of fours words. ... Although [M.] Sznycer did not consider the fifth letter of the inscription to be decipherable, [F. M.] Cross read it as an ʿayin and he has stated that it contains the pupil (a feature that is often considered to be reflective of an early script). ... Regarding the Tekke ʿayin...this portion of the bowl is corroded; hence no typological emphasis can be placed on this with any confidence. ... In the final analysis, it may be best to posit a tenth century date for this inscription.6

Sogas (2019): Knossos...was a much-frequented port by Phoenicians sailing towards the West. Even though some Phoenicians presumably only used Knossos as a stopping point, some archaeological finds indicate a more permanent character of their stay during the 9th-8th centuries BC. ... Some findings such as a bowl with a Phoenician inscription and other Near Eastern objects suggest exchange of goods and trade by the Phoenician merchants on their way to the west.7 Sogas (2019): The inscription of the [Phoenician bowl from Tekke Tomb J] suggests private ownership. According to many scholars, it was, thus, not an object of commerce but the possession of an early Phoenician who resided in Knossos. Sznycer and Coldstream agreed that the bowl dated to 900 BC by focusing on the archaeological context, whereas Cross focused his dating on palaeographical analysis and compared it to other inscriptions from the 11th century BC, such as the stele of Nora, stating that the Phoenicians start commercialising with the west in the 12th century BC. I suggest that the bowl was manufactured and inscribed during the 11th century, agreeing with Cross, and it passed hand to hand until it was buried in the 10th or early 9th century, as Sznycer and Coldstream indicated. The bowl could have been an heirloom when it was placed in the tomb. Hence, the bowl was in use for some generations before being buried. The last owner of the bowl, presumably buried in Tekke Tomb J, could have been a descendant of an early Phoenician, once an owner of the bowl. ... Nonetheless, we cannot just assume that the inscription refers to the family of first owner of the bowl, since it could have also been the donor. If this assumption was true, a Phoenician merchant, for instance, presumably called Sama, could have donated the bowl to a non-Phoenician individual in Knossos, who then donated it to his descendant and got buried with it. Hence, the donor of the bowl would have not necessarily been an inhabitant of Knossos. Likewise, as Coldstream suggests, the bowl could have been traded by Phoenicians on their way to the west. These assumptions are equally plausible.8

1. Image: Giorgos Bourogiannis, The Phoenician Presence in the Aegean During the Earlhy Iron Age: Trade, Settlement and Cultural Interaction, Rivista di Studi Fenici 46 (2018), (accessed ...), p. 63, Fig. 1: Inscribed bronze bowl from Knossos-Tekke; Herakleion 4346, Heraklion Archaeological Museum (© Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports).

2. Drawing: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 87, Fig.11: Tekke Bowl (Drawing by Cross).

3. Transliteration: Giorgos Bourogiannis, Between Scripts and Languages: Inscribed Intricacies from Geometric and Archaic Greek Contexts, in Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets, ed. Philip J. Boyes and Philippa M. Steele (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2020), (accessed ...), p. 155.

4. Translation: Judith Muñoz Sogas, Was Knossos a Home for Phoenician Traders? in Greek Art in Motion: Studies in honour of Sir John Boardman on the occasion of his 90th birthday, ed. Rui Morais, Delfim Leão, and Diana Rodríguez Pérez, with Daniela Ferreira (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 412.

5. Note: James Whitley, The Archaeology of Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001 reprint 2003), (accessed ...), p. 120.

6. Note: Rollston, pp. 86-87.

7. Note: Sogas, p. 408.

8. Ibid., p. 412.

[8G3] Abda/ʿAbda Sherd [????] (10th-9th century BCE, ca. 950-850), Byblos
[Non-Hebrew LateIIA-EarlyIIB/10th-9th]

Abda Sherd | Christopher A. Rollston

Abda Sherd; Christopher A. Rollston. Source: Rollston (2008).1


Rollston (2008): Often considered contemporary with the Shipitbaʿl Inscription, that is, late tenth century B.C.E. or early ninth century B.C.E.2 Rollston (2008): Paleaeographers have argued for some time that the script of the Shipitbaʿl Inscription and that of the ʿAbda Sherd should be dated to the late tenth or very early ninth century B.C.E.3

Rollston (2010): The Shipitba‘al Inscription can be classed as the latest of the great early Byblian royal inscriptions. From this chronological horizon also comes the ʿAbda Sherd. Note that the morphology of bet in these two inscriptions is the same; this feature was ephemeral.4

Parker (2013, 2018): ...securely-dated, tenth-century Phoenician inscriptions from Byblos (formal royal inscriptions, cursive ʿAbda sherd).5

Finkelstein, Sass (2013): Undifferentiated non-Hebrew, late Iron IIA2 and early Iron II. ... Three inscriptions from Byblos – clay cone B..., the bronze spatula and the Abda sherd... – are unstratified, with an approximate range by letter typology of late Iron IIA and early Iron IIB according to Israeli periodization.6

1. Drawing: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 75, Fig. 6: ʿAbda Inscribed Sherd, Phoenician (Drawing by Christopher Rollston).

2. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, ʿThe Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 72.

3. Ibid., p. 77.

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age, Archaeology and Biblical Studies 11 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature [SBL], 2010), [pp. 1-28] (accessed ...), pp. 23-24.

5. Note: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), pp. 45-46.

6. Note: Israel Finkelstein and Benjamin Sass, The West Semitic Alphabetic Inscriptions, Late Bronze II to Iron IIA: Archeological Context, Distribution and Chronology, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 2.2 (2013), [pp. 149-220] (accessed ...), p. 172.

Shipitbaal/Shipitbaʿl/Shipitbaʿal/Sipit-/Shafat-/Safat- [𐤔𐤐𐤈-] Inscription [KAI 7, 1936] (10th Century BCE, ca. 900), Byblos

Shipitbaal Inscription | Faqscl

Shipitbaal Inscription; Faqscl. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Shipitbaal Inscription | Christopher A. Rollston

Shipitbaal Inscription; Christopher A. Rollston. Source: Rollston (2008a).2

𐤒𐤓 𐤆 𐤁𐤍𐤉 𐤔𐤐𐤈𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤌𐤋𐤊
𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤋𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤂𐤁𐤋
𐤁𐤉𐤇𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤋𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕
𐤂𐤁𐤋 𐤀𐤃𐤕𐤅 𐤕𐤀𐤓𐤊 𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤕 𐤂𐤁𐤋
𐤉𐤌𐤕 𐤔𐤐𐤈𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤅𐤔𐤍𐤕𐤅 𐤏𐤋 𐤂𐤁𐤋
qr z bny špṭbʿl mlk
gbl bn ʾlbʿl mlk gbl
byḥmlk mlk gbl lbʿlt
gbl ʾdtw tʾrk bʿlt gbl
ymt špṭbʿl wšntw ʿl gbl
The wall that Shipitbaal built, the king
of Byblos, son of Elibaal, king of Byblos
son of Yehimilk, king of Byblos for the Lady
of Byblos, his Mistress. May the Lady of Byblos prolong
the days of Shipitbaal and his years over Byblos.

Transliteration and translation source: Walter (n.d.).3


Demsky (2007): Inscription of Shipitbaal of Byblos on a building block. It reads: Wall built by Shipitbaal, king of Byblos, son of Elibaal, king of Byblos, for Baalat-Gebel, his lady. [May] Baalat-Gebel prolong the days of Shipitbaal and his years over Byblos.4

Rollston (2008b): The Shipitbaʿl inscription contains a three-generation genealogy: Shipitbaʿl, king of Byblos; son of Elibaʿl, king of Byblos; son of Yehimilk, king of Byblos. Thus, in terms of royal chronology, the following sequence can be affirmed: Yehimilk, then Elibaʿl, and then Shipitbaʿl.5

Rollston (2008b): Benjamin Sass has recently [2005] argued that the Aḥiram Sarcophagus, the Yehimilk Inscription, the Abibaʿl Inscription, the Elibaʿl Inscription, and the Shipitbaʿl Inscription must be dated later than has been the conventional view (since the middle of the twentieth century). ... Sass has stated that he prefers the 850-750 B.C.E. time frame. ... W. F. Albright...[in 1947] suggested that the lowest date he would consider tenable [for the Aḥiram Sarcophagus Inscription] was ca. 975 B.C.E. ... Albright stated that in his judgment there is no need to date any of [the corpus of Early Royal Byblian Inscriptions] after the beginning of the ninth century, and the group as a whole belongs to the tenth century. ... Albright chronologically arranges the succession of [Byblian] kings as follows: (1) Aḥiram: ca. 1000 B.C.E.; (2) Ittobaʿl (son of Aḥiram): ca. 975 B.C.E.; (3) Yehimilk: ca. 950 B.C.E.; (4) Abibaʿl (son of Yehimilk?): ca. 930 B.C.E.; (5) Elibaʿl (son of Yehimilk): ca. 920 B.C.E.; (6) Shipitbaʿl (son of Elibaʿl): ca. 900 B.C.E. Significantly, since Albright’s era, the dates for which he argued have been broadly accepted.6

Azevedo (1994): 900 BC.7

1. Image: Faqscl, Inscription lapidaire de Shipitbaal - IXeme siècle avant JC - Byblos (Liban) - Musée national du Liban, Wikimedia Commons, 15 September 2018,ècle_avant_JC_-_Byblos_(Liban)_-_Musée_national_du_Liban.jpg (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Christopher A. Rollston, The Phoenician Script of the Tel Zayit Abecedary and Putative Evidence for Israelite Literacy, in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, ed. Ron Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008a), (accessed ...), p. 75, Fig. 4: Shipiṭbaʿl inscription.

3. Transliteration and translation: Daniel Walter, An Interpretation of the Old Byblian Inscriptions: Elibaal, Shipitbaal, and the Azarbaal Spatula (n.d.), (accessed ...), I. Elibaal (KAI 6) and Shipitbaal (KAI 7) Inscriptions.

4. Note: Aaron Demsky, Reading Northwest Semitic Inscriptions, Near Eastern Archaeology 70:2 (2007), (accessed ...), p. 609, Caption.

5. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008b), (accessed ...), p. 60.

6. Ibid., pp. 57, 59-60.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 108.

Elibaal/Elibaʿl/Elibaʿal Inscription aka Osorkon Bust [KAI 6, 1881] (10th Century BCE, ca. 920), Byblos

Elibaal Inscription | RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, Cristian Jean / Jean Schormans

Elibaal Inscription; RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, Cristian Jean / Jean Schormans. Source: Knott (2014).1

Elibaal Inscription

Elibaal Inscription. Source: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible.2

m[ʾ]š z pʿl ʾlbʿl mlk gbl byḥ[mlk mlk gbl]
[lb]ʿlt gbl ʾdtw tʾrk bʿlt [gbl]
[ymt ʾ]lbʿl wšntw ʿl [gbl]
The statue which Elibaal, king of Byblos son of Yehi[milk king of Byblos], made
[for the L]ady of Byblos, his mistress. May the Lady [of Byblos] lengthen
[the days of E]libaal and his years over [Byblos].

Transliteration and translation source: Walter (n.d.).3


Rollston (2008): The inscription of Elibaʿl was inscribed on a statue of the Egyptian King Osorkon I.4

Azevedo 1994: 920 BC.5

1. Image: Elizabeth Knott, Alphabet Origins: From Kipling to Sinai, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 22 December 2014, (accessed ...), Crystalline sandstone bust of the Egyptian king Osorkon I with an alphabetic inscription of Elibaal, king of Byblos. Byblos. 9th century B.C. Musée du Louvre, Paris, Département des Antiquités Orientales (AO 9502). © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY, photograph by Cristian Jean / Jean Schormans.

2. Drawing: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible, Elibaal Inscription, 23 December 2018, (accessed ...), Facsimile of the Elibaal Inscription.

3. Transliteration and translation: Daniel Walter, An Interpretation of the Old Byblian Inscriptions: Elibaal, Shipitbaal, and the Azarbaal Spatula (n.d.), (accessed ...), I. Elibaal (KAI 6) and Shipitbaal (KAI 7) Inscriptions.

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 60.

5. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 108.

Abibaal/Abibaʿl/Abibaʿal Inscription [KAI 5, 1895] (10th Century BCE, ca. 940-930), Byblos

Abibaal Inscription | Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Olaf M. Teßmer

Abibaal Inscription; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Olaf M. Teßmer. Source: Sass (2017).1

Abibaal Inscription | Pierre Montet

Abibaal Inscription; Pierre Montet. Source: Montet (1926).2

1. [...zy . b]ʾ . ʾbbʿl . mlk . [
2. ] . gbl . bmṣrm . lbʿl . [
3. [...........]ʿl . gb[l
[Statue which brought] Abibaal king [of]
[the city] Byblos, from Egypt for Baʿal[ath Gebal].
[May she prolong the days of Abibaal] over Byblos

Transliteration and translation source, Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible: The brackets represent deleted letters / words that were restored according to other Phoenician inscriptions with similar wording.3


Rollston (2010): The Abibaʿal Inscription (on a statue of Sheshonq) was published in 1903 (Clermont-ganneau 1903, 378–83), but the entire text was not deciphered (because scholars had misunderstood the archaic kap as a šin).4

Rollston (2008): The inscription of Abibaʿl was inscribed on a statue of the Egyptian King Sheshong I. ... The question of placement for Abibaʿl within the royal sequence cannot be known with certitude. ... The Elibaʿl Inscription is on a statue of Osorkon I. ... Sheshong I reigned before Osorkon I; therefore, it can be reasonably postulated that Abibaʿl reigned before Elibaʿl. ... Regarding the paternity of Abibaʿl...because there is no preserved patronymic in this inscription, it is not possible to answer this question with certitude. ... Albright’s tentative proposal that Abibaʿl and Elibaʿl were brothers (and thus both sons of Yehimilk) is plausible (cf. also Kings Ahaziah and Jehoram, both sons of King Ahab, 2 Kgs 1:17).5

Azevedo (1994): 940 BC.6

1. Image: Benjamin Sass, The Emergence of Monumental West Semitic Alphabetic Writing, with an Emphasis on Byblos, Semitica: Revue Publiee Par L'institut D'etudes Semitiques Du College de Franc 59 (Peeters, 2017), (accessed ...), p. 126, Fig. 8: Byblos, Abibaal inscription, Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum 3361 (© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin — Vorderasiatisches Museum, photographer: Olaf M. Teßmer).

2. Drawing: Pierre Montet, Comment rétablir l'inscription d'Abibaal, roi de Byblos? (Paris: Typographie Firmin Didot et Cie, 1926),établir-linscription-dAbibaal-roi-Byblos-Pierre/11831815052/bd (accessed ...), Planch VI, Fig. 1: Fragment d'une statue de Chechanq 1er trouvé à Byblos.

3. Transliteration and translation: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible, Abibaal Inscription (24 December 2018), (accessed ...).

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age, Archaeology and Biblical Studies 11 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature [SBL], 2010), [pp. 1-28] (accessed ...), p. 24.

5. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), pp. 60-62.

6. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 108.

Yehimilk Inscription [KAI 4, 1929] (10th Century BCE, ca. 960-950), Byblos

Yehimilk Inscription

Yehimilk Inscription. Source: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible.1

Yehimilk Inscription | Juan-Pablo Vita, José-Ángel Zamora

Yehimilk Inscription; Juan-Pablo Vita, José-Ángel Zamora. Source: Vita, Zamora (2018).2

bt | zbny | yḥmlk | mlk gbl
hʾt | ḥwy | kl | mplt | hbtm
ʾl | yʾrk | bʿlšmm | wbʿl<t>
gbl | wmpḥrt | ʾl gbl
qdšm | ymt | yḥmlk | wšntw
ʿl gbl | k mlk | ṣdq | wmlk
yšr | lpn | ʾl gbl | qd[šm | hʾ]
(This is the) temple which Yehimilk king of Byblos rebuilt.
He restored all the ruins of
these temples. May Ba’al-shamem [bʿlšmm] and Ba’alat [wbʿlt]
of Byblos [gbl] and the assembly [wmpḥrt] of the
holy gods of Byblos [ʾl gbl qdšm] prolong the days [ymt] of Yehimilk [yḥmlk] and his years [wšntw]
over Byblos [ʿl gbl]. For [he is] a legitimate king [k mlk ṣdq] and a
good king [wmlk yšr] before the h[oly] gods of Byblos [ʾl gbl qdšm].

Transliteration and translation source: Mangum (2010): The fact that Yehimilk doesn’t give us his lineage...but stresses that he is a good and legitimate king of Byblos suggests that he is a usurper.3 (Dixon (2013): Arguments have been made that Yehimilk, whose inscription does not include a genealogy as do the others in this series, might be using the term ṣdq to indicate his right to the throne (where his legitimacy might have been threatened due to succession problems.4)


Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible: The Yehimilk inscription is dated to the middle of the 10th century BCE. It was discovered in 1929 in Byblos, and consists of seven lines of text inscribed in an early Phoenician dialect which was used primarily in the royal inscriptions of Byblos.5

Vita, Zamora (2018): [M.] Martin published..palimpsests...which consist of Phoenician texts incised over ancient inscriptions originally written in the Byblos script, which had been erased, but were still noticeable in certain areas. ... Martin...noticed signs in the Byblos script underneath the Phoenician inscription of Yehimilk. These signs are indeed apparently visible at the end of some lines wherever they are not covered by the Phoenician text. Furthermore, the obvious re-elaboration of the surface of the stone block (division lines originally existing between the text lines are only partially preserved) does suggest the existence of a previous inscription.6

Azevedo (1994): 960 BC.7

1. Image: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible, Yehimilk Inscription, 9 January 2019, (accessed ...), The Inscription.

2. Drawing: Juan-Pablo Vita and José-Ángel Zamora, The Byblos Script, in Paths into Script Formation in the Ancient Mediterranean, ed. Silvia Ferrara and Miguel Valério (Rome: Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, 2018), (accessed ...), p. 87, Fig. 18: Recent photograph (by J.-Á. Zamora) and drawing (after Martin 1961, fig. 6) of the inscription of Yehimilk.

3. Transliteration and translation: Douglas Mangum, Inscription of the Day: Yehimilk, The Biblia Hebraica Blog (28 March 2010), (accessed ...).

4. Translation: Helen M. Dixon, Phoenician Mortuary Practice in the Iron Age I – III (ca. 1200 – ca. 300 BCE) Levantine “Homeland” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2013), (accessed ...), p. 42, n. 37.

5. Note: Connections between Ancient Semitic Inscriptions and the Bible.

6. Note: Pablo Vita and Ángel Zamora, pp. 86-87.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 108.

Ahiram Sarcophagus [KAI 1, 1923] (11th Century BCE, ca. 1000), Byblos

Ahiram Sarcophagus | O. Mustafin

Ahiram Sarcophagus; O. Mustafin. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Ahiram Sarcophagus Inscription | LebanonUntravelled

Ahiram Sarcophagus Inscription; LebanonUntravelled. Source:

Ahiram Sarcophagus Inscription | Wikimedia Commons

Ahiram Sarcophagus Inscription. Source: Wikimedia Commons.3



𐤏𐤋𐤉𐤟𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤟𐤅𐤉𐤂𐤋𐤟𐤀𐤓𐤍𐤟𐤆𐤍𐤟 𐤕𐤇𐤕𐤎𐤐𐤟𐤇𐤈𐤓𐤟𐤌𐤔𐤐𐤈𐤄𐤟
ʿly.gbl.wygl.ʾrn.zn. tḥtsp.ḥṭr.mšpṭh.

A coffin [ʾrn] that [It]tobaal [zpʿl ʾtbʿl], son of Ahirom [bnʾḥrm], king of Byblos [mlkgbl],
made for Ahirom [lʾḥrm], his father [ʾbh], lo, thus he put him [kšth] in seclusion [bʿlm].

Now, if a king [wʾl mlk] among kings [bmlkm]/ and a governor [wskn] among governors [bsnm] and a commander [wtmʾ] of an army [mḥnt]
should come up against Byblos [ʿly gbl]; and when he then uncovers [wygl] this coffin [ʾrn zn]— (then:) may the sceptre of his judiciary be stripped off [tḥtsp ḥṭr mšpṭh]/
may the throne of his kingdom be overturned [thtpk ksʾ mlkh] and may peace and quiet [wnḥt] flee [tbrḥ] from Byblos [ʿl gbl];
And as for him [whʾ], one should cancel his registration [ymḥsprh] concerning the libation tube [lpp] of the šarla/i-sacrifice [šrl].

Transliteration and translation source, Lehmann (2008): The Aḥīrōm sarcophagus inscription...can be divided into two parts that are carved in two different places. It starts at the small southern upper rim of the coffin, and continues on its western lid. In spite of suggestions in the past that these might be two separate inscriptions, there is actually one inscription only....4 Lehmann (2008): Probably the main enigma of the whole sarcophagus inscription is the reading of the last words on its lid, lpp𐤟šrl. ... Dussaud in the 1924 editio princeps...had to confess his inability to translate these words. ... This last phrase whʾ.ymḥsprh.lpp.šrl is to be rendered And as for him, one should cancel his registration concerning the libation tube of the šarla/i-sacrifice. ... [This interpretation of] lpp.š based on a technical interpretation of pp as mouth of the libation tube, and on the explanation of the last word šrl as a Hittite-Luwian loanword denoting a special kind of libation sacrifice...a special and hitherto unknown šarla/i-ritual, which seems to derive from Anatolian practice.5


Wikipedia: The inscription is considered to be the earliest known example of the fully developed Phoenician alphabet.6

Rollston (2008): The Aḥiram sarcophagus refers to Ittobaʿl as the son of Aḥiram. Thus, in terms of royal chronology, it can be affirmed that Aḥiram was succeeded by his son Ittobaʿl.7

Boyes (2020): The reading ʾIttobaʿal is traditional but Lehmann (2015) has recently argued that the damaged name of Aḥiram’s son should rather be reconstructed as Pilsibaʿal vel sim.8

Lehmann (2015): When the Aḥīrōm sarcophagus inscription from Byblos was first published in 1924, the reconstruction of the name of Aḥīrōm’s son...was a subject of debate. After different proposals, the name Ittōbaʿal had prevailed until recent editions.... A new epigraphic evaluation however shows that this established reading is almost impossible. By the help of modern palaeographic and calligraphic methods, a new reconstruction is offered and it will be shown that the name of Aḥīrōm’s son must have been Pulsibaʿl or Pilsibaʿl.9

Azevedo (1994): 1000 BC.10

1. Image: O. Mustafin, Ahiram Sarcophagus 1, Wikimedia Commons, 28 November 2010, (accessed ...).

2. Image:, King Ahiram Sarcophagus and the Alphabet, (accessed ...), museum-6.jpg.

3. Drawing: Wikimedia Commons, Sarcophag of Ahiram inscription, 1 June 2008, (accessed ...).

4. Transliteration and translation: Reinhard G. Lehmann, Calligraphy and Craftsmanship in the Aḥīrōm Inscription: Considerations on Skilled Linear Flat Writing in Early First Millennium Byblos, Maarav 15.2 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 121.

5. Ibid., pp. 124-126.

6. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Ahiram sarcophagus, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 60.

8. Note: Philip J. Boyes, Variation in alphabetic cuneiform: Rethinking the ‘Phoenician’ inscription from Sarepta, in Understanding Relations Between Scripts II: Early Alphabets, ed. Philip J. Boyes, Philippa M. Steele (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2020) (accessed ...), p. 41, n. 12.

9. Note: Reinhard G. Lehmann, Wer warAḥīrōms Sohn (KAI 1:1)? Eine kalligraphisch-prosopographische Annäherung an eine epigraphisch offene Frage, in Neue Beiträge zur Semitistik: Fünftes Treffen der Arbeitsgemeinschaft Semitistik in der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft vom 15.–17. Februar 2012 an der Universität Basel (Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2015),ḥīrōms_Sohn_KAI_1_1_Eine_kalligraphisch_prosopographische_Annäherung_an_eine_epigraphisch_offene_Frage" (accessed ...), p. 163, Summary.

10. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 108.

Hebrew-Language Inscriptions

Rollston Epigraphy [2016]: The oldest inscriptions written in a distinctive Old Hebrew script can be dated with certitude to the 9th century BCE. ... We know an enormous amount about the history and development of the Hebrew script through time, as we have hundreds and hundreds of Hebrew inscriptions from the 9th through 6th centuries BCE.

Alan Millard [1982]: To date, no preexilic Israelite literary manuscript is available. The longest early Hebrew text in its contemporary form is the Siloam Tunnel Inscription. ... There are many early Hebrew ostraca...and several dozen graffiti. Yet strangely, longer texts are few. In contrast, early Aramaic texts of some length have been found, but few ostraca or graffiti.

Jewish Virtual Library: From the late ninth and the eighth centuries there are a number of Hebrew inscriptions: (a) a series of small inscriptions from Hazor which contain primarily names; (b) the *Samaria ostraca: 63 dockets written in ink on potsherds referring to deliveries of oil and wine. Although they are short – listing the regnal year, a place name, a personal name, and a quantity of oil and wine – they allow an insight into the administration of the Northern Kingdom. They shed light on the northern dialect of Hebrew and since they contain many Ba ʿ al names, they are of use in discussion of the religious situation in the Northern Kingdom; (c) the Tell Qasīla ostraca: one refers to a shipment of oil, while another reads: "gold of Ophir for Beth-Horon, 30 shekels"; (d) a series of *seals that can be ascribed to this period, some containing names familiar from the Bible such as Ahaz, Jeroboam, and Isaiah; and e) the inscription qdš on vessels from Beer-Sheba and Hazor.


Dennis Pardee [1979], p. 48: The excavations at Tel Arad in the Judaean Negev, e.g., unearthed more than two hundred texts, in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Arabic.

Dennis Pardee [1979], p. 50: The Hebrew inscriptions are found written on a variety of materials, with a variety of instruments. The most striking, but the most poorly represented, are the inscriptions chiseled in stone. Of these, the best known is the Siloam Tunnel inscription.... Further examples are the Silwan tomb inscription (KAI 191; TSSI, 1: 23-24) and the Khirbet Beit Lei tomb graffiti.

Dennis Pardee [1979], pp. 50-51: The greatest number of [Hebrew] texts in continuous prose are found written in ink on pieces of broken pottery vessels. These pottery sherds with writing are known as ostraca (singular: ostracon). As anyone knows who has tramped over a Palestinian mound, pottery sherds are ubiquitous. They furnished an immediately available and cheap form of writing material. They were the scratch pads and stationery of their time. With one exception, all extant Hebrew letters of the pre-Christian era are written on ostraca....

Dennis Pardee [1979], pp. 51,63: Another [Hebrew inscription] technique was to incise or stamp an inscription into a pottery vessel before it had completely hardened (i.e., during manufacture). The most frequent stamped inscriptions are the well-known but still enigmatic lmlk ("to the king") jar handle inscriptions.... ... A very frequently attested form of stamp inscription is lmlk, "to the king," followed by one of four place names, Hebron, Socoh, Ziph, and mmšt (the last place is of uncertain identification). Though more than 800 of these stamped jar handles have been found to date, only these four places are included as geographical designations.

Dennis Pardee [1979], pp. 52-56: Most of the longer epigraphic Hebrew documents come from three main sites: Samaria, Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir), and Arad. The Samaria ostraca were discovered at the site of ancient Samaria in 1910 by excavators from Harvard University. The texts number about one hundred. They are written in ink on ostraca and deal with shipments of various commodities such as wine and oil. ... The Samaria ostraca furnish the only entensive group of inscriptions, other than seals, from Northern Israel and are thus invaluable for all aspects of the history of the area, especially geography (because of the place names mentioned in the ostraca), onomastics (many personal names are mentioned as senders and recipients), and linguistics (e.g., the spelling yn for "wine," versus yyn in Judah...). ... The Lachish ostraca consist of twenty-two texts from Tell ed-Duweir, a site located in the Shephela, about forty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. ... The state of preservation of the Lachish ostraca ranges from almost perfect (e.g.,nos. 1,2) to practically unreadable (nos. 10, 14, 15, 21). ... The third and final main group of Hebrew inscriptions is composed of the more than two hundred texts from Tel Arad (109texts in Hebrew, 85 in Aramaic, two in Greek, five in Arabic).... These inscriptions are the epigraphic fruit of excavations carried out between 1962 and 1967. ... Of the 109 Hebrew inscriptions, 88 were ostraca, 16 were incised jar inscriptions, and five were seals.

Arad Ostraca Including Eliyashiv Ostraca [1965] (6th Century BCE, ca. 600-586)

Arad Ostraca | AP Photo/Dan Balilty

Arad Ostraca; AP Photo/Dan Balilty. Source: Pileggi, AP (2016).1

Arad Ostracon 1967-631 | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror

Arad Ostracon 1967-631; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.2

Arad Ostracon 1967-669 | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Arad Ostracon 1967-669; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.3

Arad Ostracon 1967-713 | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Avraham Hay

Arad Ostracon 1967-713; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Avraham Hay. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.4

Arad Ostracon 1972-121 | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror

Arad Ostracon 1972-121; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.5


Jewish Virtual Library: Over 100 ostraca inscribed in biblical Hebrew (in paleo-Hebrew script) were found in the citadel of Arad. ... The letters are from all periods of the citadel's existence, but most date to the last decades of the kingdom of Judah.6

Tel Aviv University: Most of the ostraca unearthed at Arad are dated to a short time span during the last stage of the fortress's history, on the eve of the kingdom's destruction in 586 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar.7

Wikipedia: Among the most significant artifacts unearthed at Tel Arad are 91 ostraca, known as the Arad ostraca, written in Palaeo-Hebrew script, referring to the citadel as the House of Yahweh. ... The Eliyashiv Ostraca, all found in the same room, are addressed to a person named Eliyashiv, ordering him to deliver a specific quantity of wine, flour, etc.8

Pileggi, AP (2016): With the help of sophisticated imaging tools and complex software, Tel Aviv University researchers [analyzing the handwriting of 16 of the ink inscriptions on ceramic shards] determined the series of 2,600-year-old inscriptions were written by at least six different authors.9

1. Image: Tamar Pileggi and AP, New look at ancient shards suggests Bible even older than thought, The Times of Israel, 12 April 2016, (accessed ...), Letters inscribed on pottery, known as ostraca, which were unearthed in an excavation of a fort in Arad, Israel, and dated to about 600 BCE shortly before Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem, are seen in Israel Museum in Jerusalem Tuesday, April 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty).

2. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Neta Dror, Letter (ostracon); IAA: 1967-631, (accessed ...).

3. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Hebrew letter; IAA: 1967-669, (accessed ...).

4. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Avraham Hay, Letter (ostracon); IAA: 1967-713, (accessed ...).

5. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Neta Dror, Letter (ostracon); IAA:1972-121, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Jewish Virtual Library, Archaeology in Israel: Ancient Arad, (accessed ...), Ostraca (inscribed potsherds).

7. Note: Tel Aviv University, Multispectral imaging reveals ancient Hebrew inscription undetected for over 50 years,, 14 June 2017, (accessed ...).

8. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Tel Arad, (accessed ...), The Iron Age Israelite settlement: Arad ostraca.

9. Note: Tamar Pileggi and AP, New look at ancient shards suggests Bible even older than thought, The Times of Israel, 12 April 2016, (accessed ...).

Royal Steward Inscription aka Shebna Inscription [KAI 191, 1870] (7th Century BCE)

Royal Steward Inscription | Trustees of the British Museum

Royal Steward Inscription; Trustees of the British Museum. Source: The British Museum.1

Royal Steward Inscription | Avigad (1953)

Royal Steward Inscription; Avigad (1953). Source: Smoak, Mandel (2019).

𐤆𐤀𐤕[𐤒𐤁𐤓𐤕 𐤔𐤁𐤍]𐤉𐤄𐤅 𐤀𐤔𐤓 𐤏𐤋 𐤄𐤁𐤉𐤕𐤟𐤀𐤉𐤍 [𐤐]𐤄 𐤊𐤎𐤐𐤟𐤅𐤆𐤄𐤁
[𐤊𐤉] 𐤀𐤌 [𐤏𐤑𐤌𐤕𐤅] 𐤅 𐤏𐤑𐤌[𐤕] 𐤀𐤌𐤕𐤄 𐤀[𐤕]𐤄𐤟 𐤀𐤓𐤅𐤓 𐤄𐤀𐤃𐤌 𐤀𐤔𐤓
𐤉𐤐𐤕𐤇 𐤀𐤕 𐤆𐤀𐤕
zʾt[qbrt šbn]yhw ʾšr ʿl hbyt ʾyn [p]h ksp·wzhb
[ky] ʾm [ʿṣmtw] w ʿṣm[t] ʾmth ʾ[t]h ʾrwr hʾdm ʾšr
yptḥ ʾt zʾt
This is [the sepulcher of ...]-yahu who was over the house. There is no silver and no gold here
but [his bones] and the bones of his slave-wife with him. Cursed be the man who
will open this!

Transliteration and translation source, Smoak, Mandel (2016).3


Paterson (2016): Archeologists have been able to survey approximately 50...ancient tombs in Silwan [across the Kidron Valley on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, directly across from the old City of David]. ... In 1870, a French archeologist name Charles Clermont-Ganneau was examining these ancient tombs and surveyed a partially destroyed tomb high up on the cliff. He discovered an inscription that he was unable to decipher so he cut it out of the rock and sent it to the British Museum in London (where it remains to this day). Part of the inscription is lost to us. What could be recovered reads: This is [the grave of] [... ...]yahu, who is over the house. There is no silver or gold here, only ... [his bones] ... and the bones of his maidservant with him. Cursed be the man who opens this. Unfortunately, the name is partially destroyed. 4

Avigad (1953): In the course of his investigations at the village of Silwân (Siloam)...Clermont-Ganneau observed a rock-cut structure with a dressed façade.... Above the door of this rock-façade...he noticed a rectangular sunk panel...with an engraved inscription consisting of three lines of Phoenician (ancient Hebrew) characters. To the right of the door...another sunk panel was visible bearing an inscription of one line only. Both inscriptions were badly damaged and appeared to Clermont-Ganneau to have been deliberately defaced with hammer.5

Paterson (2016): In an 1953...a prominent epigraphist...Nahman Avigad convincingly demonstrated that the name on the inscription originally read “Shebnayahu”.... The name fits perfectly into the missing area of the inscription, better than any alternative names with theophoric endings that he tried.6 (Paterson (2016): Names ending “iahu” or “yahu” are called “theophoric” names. These are names that embed the name of a god, in this case, the name of God. In Hebrew the name of God contained the 4 consonants, YHWH. ... The shortened form of the name is Yah or Jah.7)

Wikipedia: The inscription is broken at the point where the tomb's owner would have been named, but biblical scholars have suggested a connection to Shebna, on the basis of a verse in the Bible mentioning a royal steward who was admonished for building a conspicuous tomb.8

(15) Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, “Come, go to this steward, to Shebna [𐤔𐤁𐤍𐤀 / שֶׁבְנָ֖א], who is over the household, and say to him: (16) What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? (Isaiah 22:15-16 ESV)

Jackson (n.d.): A more complete form of the name is found in Nehemiah 9:4 — Shebaniah, the last syllable being yahu.9

Hays (2010): Shebna is likely a short form of a known Yahwistic moniker, She-baniah/Shebanyahu. ... From [Nahman] Avigad’s first publication of the inscription, he promulgated the idea that it was the tomb of Shebna.... From paleographical and orthographical standpoints, a late-eighth-century date is plausible, and the phrase »who is over thehouse« suggests that the tomb’s inhabitant indeed had the same position as Shebna.10

Paterson (2016): Is there any evidence that Shebna ever used the theophoric name Shebnayahu? Two clay bullae or clay seals have been discovered that contain the name Shebnayahu. One of these official seals was discovered in Lachish, the second most important city in the kingdom of Judah. Several lines of evidence from the excavation lead to the conclusion that the clay seal is contemporaneous with the inscription in Hezekiah’s Tunnel and the inscription over the entrance to Shebna’s tomb. So the timing is right. The second seal with the name Shebnayahu was discovered in an antiquities market in 2007. This bullae was clearly impressed by the same seal. When combined it is possible to read the entire impression. It reads, Shebnayahu servant of the king. So we have a royal official named Shebnayahu who was contemporaneous with Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah.11

1. Image: The Trustees of the British Museum, The Shebna Inscription, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Jeremy Smoak and Alice Mandel, Texts in the City: Monumental Inscriptions inJerusalem’s Urban Landscape, in Size Matters - Understanding Monumentality Across Ancient Civilizations, Histoire 146, ed. Federico Buccellati, Sebastian Hageneuer, Sylva van der Heyden, and Felix Levenson (Bielefeld, DE: transcript Verlag, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 326, Figure 2: Drawing of the Royal Steward Inscription (Avigad 1953: pl. 9; courtesy of the Israel Exploration Society).

3. Transcription and translation: Jeremy Smoak and Alice Mandel, Reconsidering the Function of Tomb Inscriptions in Iron Age Judah: Khirbet Beit Lei as a Test Case, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions [JANER] (Brill) 16 (2016), (accessed ...), p. 209.

4. Note: Keith Paterson, Has The Tomb of Shebna Been Discovered? Bible Reading Archeology website, 26 December 2016, (accessed ...).

5. Note: Nahman Avigad, The Epitaph of a Royal Steward from Siloam Village, Israel Exploration Journal 3:3 (1953), (accessed ...), p. 137.

6. Note: Paterson.

7. Ibid.

8. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Shebna inscription, (accessed ...).

9. Note: Wayne Jackson, The Saga of Shebna, Christian Courier, n.d., (accessed ...).

10. Note: Christopher B. Hays, Re-Excavating Shebna's Tomb: A New Reading of Isa 22, 15-19 in its Ancient Near Eastern Context, Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft [ZAW] 122:4 (2010), (accessed ...), pp. 559, 561-562.

11. Note: Paterson.

Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon aka Yavne-Yam Ostracon [KAI 200, 1960] (7th Century BCE, ca. 630)

Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.1

Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon | GU-theolog

Mesad Hashavyahu Ostracon; GU-theolog. Source: Wikimedia Commons.2


𐤉ׂ𐤔𐤌𐤏 𐤀𐤃𐤍𐤉𐤟 𐤄𐤔ׁ𐤓
𐤀𐤕 𐤃𐤁𐤓 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤄𐤟 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊
𐤒𐤑𐤓 𐤄𐤉𐤄𐤟 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊𐤟 𐤁𐤇
𐤑𐤓 𐤀𐤎𐤌𐤟 𐤅𐤉𐤒𐤑𐤓 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊
𐤅𐤉𐤊𐤋 𐤅𐤀𐤎𐤌 𐤊𐤉𐤍𐤌𐤟 𐤋𐤐𐤍𐤉 ׂ𐤔𐤁
𐤕 𐤊𐤀ׂ𐤔𐤓 𐤊𐤋 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊 𐤀𐤕 𐤒𐤑𐤓 𐤅𐤀
𐤎𐤌 𐤊𐤉𐤍𐤌 𐤅𐤉𐤁𐤀𐤟 𐤇ׂ𐤔𐤁𐤉𐤄𐤅 𐤁𐤍 ׂ𐤔𐤁
𐤉𐤟 𐤅𐤉𐤒𐤇𐤟𐤀𐤕 𐤁𐤂𐤃 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊 𐤊𐤀ׂ𐤔𐤁 𐤊𐤋𐤕
𐤀𐤕 𐤒𐤑𐤓𐤉 𐤆𐤄 𐤉𐤊𐤌 𐤋𐤒𐤇 𐤀𐤕 𐤁𐤂𐤃 𐤏𐤁𐤃𐤊
𐤅𐤊𐤋𐤀𐤇𐤉𐤟 𐤉𐤏𐤍?𐤋𐤉𐤄𐤒𐤑𐤓𐤌𐤀𐤕𐤉𐤁𐤇𐤌

𐤀𐤇𐤉𐤟 𐤉𐤏𐤍𐤅𐤋𐤉𐤟 𐤀𐤌𐤍 𐤌𐤒𐤕𐤉𐤟 𐤌𐤀
[𐤔𐤌 𐤅𐤄𐤀 𐤂𐤆𐤋 𐤀𐤕] 𐤁𐤂𐤃𐤉 𐤅𐤀𐤌 𐤋𐤀𐤟 𐤋𐤔𐤓 𐤋𐤄𐤔
[𐤁 𐤀𐤕 𐤁𐤂𐤃] 𐤏𐤁[𐤃𐤊 𐤅𐤕𐤕]𐤌 𐤀𐤋𐤅𐤟 𐤓𐤇
[𐤌𐤌 𐤅𐤔𐤌]𐤏𐤕 𐤀𐤕 [𐤃𐤁𐤓𐤏]𐤁𐤃𐤊 𐤅𐤋𐤀 𐤕𐤃𐤄𐤌𐤍
יׂשמע אדני השׁר
את דבר עבדה עבדך
קצר היה עבדך בח
צר אסם ויקצר עבדך
ויכל ואסם בימם לפני ׂשב
ת כאׂשר כל עבדך את קצר וא
סם כימם ויבא חׂשביהו בן ׂשב
י ויקחאת בגד עבדך כאׂשר כלת
את קצרי זה ימם לקח את בגד עבדך

ʾmn nqty. mʾ
[šm whʾ gzl ʾt] bgdy wʾm lʾ. lšr lhš
[b ʾt bgd] ʿb[dk wtt]n ʾlw. rḥ
[mm wšm]ʿt ʾt [dbrʿ]bdk wlʾ tdhm

Let my lord, the governor, listen
to the word of his servant. Your servant
is a reaper. Your servant was in
Hasar-'Asam, and your servant reaped,
and finished, and stored (the grain) during the days prior to the sabbath.
When your servant had completed the reaping, and
stored (the grain) during these days, Hoshabyahu ben-Shobi arrived,
and he confiscated the garment of your servant when I had completed
the reaping. It is already days since he took the garment of your servant.
And all my brothers—who are reaping with me—can testify on my behalf,

Truly I am innocent of any
of[fence, but he unjustly took] my garment. Surely it is for the official
to re[turn the garment] of your ser[vant. So may you gra]nt him
compas[sion and he]ar the [plea of your] servant and do not be silent....

Transliteration and translation source lines 1-10: Hanson (2007)3; lines 11-14: Dobbs-Allsopp (1994).4


COJS: Archaeologists excavating the [the small Iron Age fortress known today as Mezad Hashavyahu] in 1960 unearthed seven inscribed items, including six ostraca written in Hebrew. ... Written on one of these pieces is the appeal of a farm worker whose garment was confiscated by a supervisor as collateral on the grounds that the worker failed to meet his daily quota of grain and owed the rest. The worker claims that he did meet the quota and appeals to the local governor to expedite the return of his garment.5

Rogoff (2013): The shard was found at what seems to have been an outpost of the port town of Yavneh-Yam, during the reign of the biblical king Josiah. Scholars are divided, however, as to who controlled the garrison: the king in Jerusalem or the pharaoh reasserting Egyptian power along the coastal plain. The original name of the fort is unknown, but the excavators dubbed it “Metzad Hashavyahu” (“Fort Hashavyahu”), based on the personal name appearing on several ostraca unearthed there.6

Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): The ostracon lacks the address and greeting formulas customary for letters. ... The opening of the petition begins with a formulaic plea. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): [Rather than] a letter, or a judicial contract, or some other as-yet-unidentified formal judicial complaint...the ostracon represents...what [R.] Westbrook has called a plea of gzl. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): In BH gzl is the technical term for abuse of authority involving the taking of property. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): Westbrook proposes that the Mesad Hashavyahu ostracon extra judicial petition addressed to the king or his subordinates in cases of abuse of power involving the wrongful taking of property. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): It is likely that the ostracon was meant only to summarize the contents of the petition, perhaps as part of the procedure for gaining admittance to a hearing before the šr. As suggested by 2 Sam 14:4, the actual petition itself would have been made in person. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): The favor of classifying the ostracon as a plea of gzl relates chiefly to the appearance of the verb lqḥ, to take, in [line 9 of] the ostracon.... This verb occurs in texts that focus specifically on abuse of power involving the wrongful taking of property. ... The use of the verb lqḥ in the Mesad Hashavyahu ostracon would seem to signify that Hoshayahu ben Shabay is not accused of theft, but rather abuse of power involving the wrongful taking of property. ...If it were a question of theft, one would expect the use of the verb gnb instead. Dobbs-Allsopp (1994): The restoration of a form of gzl would...make the genre designation [of the ostracon as a plea of gzl] very explicit. ... One might suggest restoring [šm whʾ gzl ʾt] at the beginning of line 12. This restoration contains only one more letter than that of the commonly accepted proposal of [F. M.] Cross ([šm hšb nʾ ʾt]).7

1. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, A reaper's plea; IAA: 1960-67, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: GU-theolog, Mesad Hashavyahu ScriptBW, Wikimedia Commons, 3 February 2010, (accessed ...).

3. Transliteration and translation: K. C. Hanson, The Yavneh-Yam Ostracon, K. C. Hanson's Collection of West Semitic Documents, last modified: 17 April 2007, (accessed ...).

4. Transliteration and translation: F. W. Dobbs-Allsopp, The Genre of the Meṣad Hashavyahu Ostracon, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 295 (August 1994),ṣad_Hashavyahu_Ostracon (accessed ...), p. 53.

5. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], Mezad Hashavyahu Ostracon, c. 630 BCE, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Mike Rogoff, Ancient Email: Letter on Pottery Fragment Dates Back 2,600 Years, Haaretz, 18 July 2013, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Dobbs-Allsopp, p. 52.
        Ibid., p. 50.
        Ibid., pp. 49-51.
        Ibid., p. 52.
        Ibid., pp. 50-51.
        Ibid., p. 52.

Siloam Inscription [KAI 189, 1880] (8th Century BCE, ca. 700)

Siloam Inscription

Siloam Inscription. Source: Watch Jerusalem.1

Siloam Inscription | J. Renz, W. Rollig

Siloam Inscription; J. Renz, W. Rollig. Source: The Biblia Hebraica Blog.2


הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד
הגרזן אש אל רעו ובעוד שלש אמת להנקב וישע קל אש ק
[ר]א אל רעו כי הית קדה בצר מימן [ומשם] אל ובים ה
[ר]א אל רעו כי הית זדה בצר מימן [ומשם] אל ובים ה
נקבה הכו החצבם אש לקרת רעו גרזן על [ג]רזן וילכו
המים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתי[ם ו]אלף אמה ומ[א]
ת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראש החצב[ם]
[. . .] the tunneling; and this was how the tunneling was completed: As [the laborers employed]
their picks, each crew toward the other, and while there were still three cubits remaining, the voices of the men calling out

to each other [could be heard], since it got louder on the right [and lef]t. The day the
opening was made, the stonecutters hacked toward each other, pick against pick.
And the water flowed from the source to the pool [twel]ve hundred cubits,
(despite the fact that) the height of the rock above the stonecutters' heads was one hundred cubits.

Transliteration and translation source: Hanson (2013).3


Wikipedia: The Siloam inscription or Shiloah inscription...or Silwan inscription...records the construction of the [Siloam] tunnel, which has been dated to the 8th century BCE on the basis of the writing style. ... It is among the oldest extant records of its kind written in Hebrew using the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.4

Watch Jerusalem: Constructed roughly 2,700 years ago...Hezekiah’s Tunnel is one of Jerusalem’s most incredible landmarks. Even by today’s standards, the construction of this 1,750-foot-long subterranean passageway is an extraordinary feat of engineering. Hezekiah’s Tunnel connects the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. The Gihon Spring is situated on the eastern side of the City of David. This natural spring is Jerusalem’s only fresh water source and is absolutely essential to life in the city. ... Around 710 b.c., when King Hezekiah learned of Sennacherib’s intent to conquer Jerusalem, he decided to reroute the water from the Gihon inside the walls of Jerusalem. This would prevent Assyria’s army from using the critical resource.5

COJS: The Bible mentions a tunnel that [King Hezekiah] had dug under the City of David in Jerusalem to supply water to the upper part of the city. The Siloam Inscription that was found in the tunnel is arguably the most precious of all ancient Hebrew inscriptions. It seems to have been privately commissioned by the tunnel’s chief engineer, in whose voice it describes the completion of the digging. Initially, two crews of workmen dug simultaneously from opposite ends of the projected tunnel. The inscription records that as the two teams of tunnelers came within about five feet of each other they realized that they had gone slightly off course and would not meet. The workmen relied on the sound of their pickaxes and their voices to correct the trajectory to join the two parts of the tunnel.6

(2) And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, (3) he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. (4) A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?
(30) This same Hezekiah closed the upper outlet of the waters of Gihon and directed them down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. (2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30 ESV)
(20) The rest of the deeds of Hezekiah and all his might and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? (2 Kings 20:20 ESV)

Wikipedia: The inscription contains 6 lines, of which the first is damaged. ... Only the word zada on the third line is of doubtful translation—perhaps a crack or a weak part. The passage reads: ... the tunnel ... and this is the story of the tunnel while ... / the axes were against each other and while three cubits were left to (cut?) ... the voice of a man ... / called to his counterpart, (for) there was ZADA in the rock, on the right ... and on the day of the / tunnel (being finished) the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart, ax against ax and flowed / water from the source to the pool for 1,200 cubits. and (100?) / cubits was the height over the head of the stonecutters ...7

Hirsch, Berger: The only obscure point that remains is the meaning of the word "zedah" in line 3. This word does not occur in the vocabulary of the Bible. It has been compared with the Arabic "zada" (= "to aim correctly," "to enter a hole"); and in any case it seems to refer not to a peculiarity of the rock, but to the work accomplished by the men.8

Azevedo (1994): 8th BC.9

1. Image: Watch Jerusalem, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, 14 June 2018, (accessed ...), Siloam Inscription [Public Domain].

2. Drawing: The Biblia Hebraica Blog, Inscription of the Day: Siloam Tunnel, 20 March 2010, (accessed ...), The line drawing above is from J. Renz and W. Rollig, Handbuch der altehebraischen Epigraphik, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995.

3. Transliteration and translation: K. C. Hanson, Siloam Inscription, K. C. Hanson's Collection of West Semitic Documents, last modified: 18 April 2013, (accessed ...).

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Siloam inscription, (accessed ...).

5. Note: Watch Jerusalem.

6. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], Hezekiah’s (or Siloam) Tunnel Inscription, 701 BCE, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Wikipedia, Translation.

8. Note: Emil G. Hirsch and Philippe Berger, Siloam Inscription,, (accessed ...), The Work Described.

9. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Khirbet el-Qom Graffiti [1968] (8th Century BCE)

Khirbet el-Qom Graffiti | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror

Khirbet el-Qom Graffiti; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.1

Khirbet el-Qom Graffiti | Othmar Keel, Christoph Uehlinger

Khirbet el-Qom Graffiti; Othmar Keel, Christoph Uehlinger. Source: Wagner (2007).2

ʾryhw. hʿšr. ktbh
brk. ʾryhw. lyhwh
wmṣryh lʾšrth hwšʿlh
Uriyahu the rich wrote it [ʾryhw hʿšr ktbh].
Blessed be [brk] Uriyahu [ʾryhw] by Yahweh [lyhwh]
For from his enemies by his (YHWH’s) asherah he (YHWH) has saved him [wmṣryh lʾšrth hwšʿlh].
by Oniyahu [lʾnyhw]
and by his asherah [wlʾšrth]
his a[she]rah [ʾ??rth]

Transliteration and translation source, Hadley (1987): Alternatively, if we consider lyhwh and lʾšrth a compound linguistic stereotype...line [3] would read (and) by his asherah, for from his enemies he has saved him.3

ʾryhw . hʾšr . ktbh
brk . ʾryhw . lyhwh
wmṣryh . lʾšrth . wšʿlh
(hand) lʾnyhw
wlʾ . rth
Uriyahu was the one who wrote it [ʾryhw hʾšr ktbh].
Blessed be [brk] Uriyahu [ʾryhw] by Yahweh [lyhwh],
And his Egyptian (servant) by his asherah, and here is his handprint [wmṣryh lʾšrth wšʿlh]:
(hand in sunk relief) for Oniyahu [lʾnyhw].
By his asherah [lʾšrth]
And by his a . erah [wlʾ rth].

Transliteration and translation source: Shea (1990): As can be seen from a comparison, I agree with all [Judith] Hadley's indentification for the letters in this inscription except for the first letter of the second word in the first line. ... The letter obviously is misshapen. It is not circular like the ʿayin in the third line, it is triangular. By form it looks most like a dalet, but the reading of dšr makes no sense. The head of the ʾaleph is triangular and there is the suggestion of a tail extending down from it to meet the long incision that extends across the inscription here.4


Malamud (2016): Because it is so difficult to read, many scholars read the inscription differently. ... While over fifteen translations exist, [Judith] Hadley’s translation is the only I have found that is used by other scholars.5

Nabulsi (2015): Khirbet el-Qom was excavated by W. Dever in 1967–71 as a salvage operation. Dever had acquired a large amount of Iron II pottery as well as bronze and stone objects from a Jerusalem antiquities dealer. ... These items made Dever aware of large scale looting in the area. After identifying the point of origin of these items, work began to document what remained of the site. ... Dever states that during this time he observed nearly a hundred robbed tombs, and thousands of pieces of pottery were seen in the village or later at antiquities dealerships.6

Wiggins (2009): The attention of William Dever was drawn to [the Khirbet el-Qom] burial a badly striated inscription purchased from an antiquities dealer that had been traced to the location. Indeed, the exact spot of the excised inscription was discovered where it had been removed from a pillar near a tomb.7

Malamud (2016): The hand of Khirbet el-Qom is almost as controversial as the accompanying inscription, but it may be linked to Asherah. It is generally believed to be an amulet and to have an apotropaic function, to ward off evil forces.8

Thomas (2016): Reading this inscription is problematic due to naturally-occurring cracks that pre-date the inscription. In addition to these cracks, portions of the stone feature very heavy markings that are difficult to distinguish from the cracks in the stone. [William G.] Dever, who did the initial studies of the inscription, has posited that the inscription and markings on the stone may be graffiti done with a sharp stick rather than an official inscription. At some point, someone traced over the inscription, leaving “ghost images” on the stone. ... The most obvious letters read ʿryhwh?šrktbh / ?rk?ryhw?ywh / w???ryhl?šrt???šʾlh / l??yhw / lšrth / wl??rth [? is used where the inscription is uncertain]. There are no clear dividers between words in the inscription, and there are various opinions on where the dividers should be, resulting in various interpretations of the text.9

Zammit (2012): Several of the letters, especially those in line 3, look as if an unskilled hand attempted to overwrite them to make the text more legible, thereby leaving most of the letters with the so-called ‘ghost images’. ... Scholars agree on the name Uriyahu (‘Yahweh is my light’) in line 1. ... Scholars differ in reading the second word as either hʿšr — «the rich» (or wealthy or prosperous) or «the honourable», or hśr — «the governor». ... Line 3 is the most problematic to read, owing to the several faintly inscribed ‘ghost images’ of letters... Not only do the duplicate writings make line 3 difficult to decipher, but it is also open to many interpretations.10

Nabulsi (2015): I prefer [M.] O’Connor’s choice of the English word “prosperous” here over “rich” for the translation. Using the English “rich” focuses upon material wealth, whereas the choice of “prosperous” can imply bounty in all areas of life for which Uriah is thankful. This is appropriate for an epitaph in a way that the English “rich” is not. Additionally being rich in material goods is not something that would be declared on a tomb — it would seem an invitation to robbers.11

Malamud (2016): Asherah is a mysterious word mentioned 40 times throughout the Hebrew Bible, primarily found in the Book of Kings and Chronicles. ... There is no explanation of why God hates (the) Asherah(s). While nearly universally condemning Asherah, the Hebrew Bible avoids describing anything about Asherah, besides connecting the term to wood or trees and suggesting that it was forbidden. ... Most scholars thought Asherah was a variation of Astarte, the Hellenized name for Ishtar; a Babylonian goddess (of Sumerian origin) that presided over love, war, and fertility. However, this interpretation was challenged when a local of Ras Shamrah, Syria in 1929 stumbled on the ruins of the powerful North Canaanite city-state, Ugarit. In many of the tablets uncovered at this revolutionary site, particularly the Ba’al cycle, Athirat is portrayed as the queen and consort of the chief deity El, Mother of the Gods and Lady of the Sea/or Day. ... Scholars realized that Asherah is the Hebraization of the Ugaritic Athirat.12

Wiggins (2009): The Khirbet el-Qom inscription is extremely problematic; those who’ve examined it closely do not all agree that asherah occurs in it at all. Wiggins (2009): Dever originally translated the inscription with no reference to Asherah and with an admission of its poor state of preservation. It was only after Kuntillet Ajrud was discovered that scholars began reading Asherah back into this extremely difficult epigraphic puzzle. Wiggins (2009): If asherah appears here it is grammatically unwieldy: blessed be Uriyahu by Yahweh for from his enemies by his asherah he has saved him, and that’s only if the word really is asherah. ...Only after Asherah appears in a grammatically awkward way from Kuntillet Ajrud does she get back-read into Khirbet el-Qom, in an even more awkward syntactic construction.13

Malamud (2016): Because it is so difficult to read, many scholars read the inscription differently. For instance, Dever's first interpretation of the inscription does not include Asherah at all. Seven years after the find, Lemaire’s reexamination and translation is the first to find Asherah in the inscription.14

Thomas (2016): Based on paleographic evidence, the inscription dates to about 750 BCE.15

1. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Neta Dror, Burial inscription; IAA: 1972-169, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Andreas Wagner, Hand (AT), Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft , March 2007, (accessed ...), p. 5, Abb. 4 Darstellung einer Hand in Chirbet el-Qōm (8. Jh. v. Chr.) [Aus: O. Keel / Chr. Uehlinger, Götter, Göttinnen und Gottessymbole (QD 134), Freiburg, 5. Aufl. 2001, Abb. 236].

3. Transliteration and translation: Judith M. Hadley, The Khirbet El-Qom Inscription, Vetus Testamentum XXXVII:1 (1987), (accessed ...), p. 50.

4. Transliteration and translation: William H. Shea, The Khirbet El-Qom Inscription Again, Vetus Testamentum LX:1 (1990), (accessed ...), p. 110.

5. Note: David Malamud, Asherah as an Israelite Goddess: Debunking the Cult Object Myth (research paper, University of Maryland, 9 May 2016), (accessed ...), p. 17.

6. Note: Rachel Virginia King Nabulsi, Burial Practices, Funerary Texts, and the Treatment of Death in Iron Age Israel and Aram, (PhD diss., The University of Georgia, 2015), (accessed ...), pp. 173-174.

7. Note: Steve A. Wiggins' website, Who’s Your Daddy? 9 October 2009, (accessed ...).

8. Note: Malamud, p. 11.

9. Note: Taylor Thomas, Ashes in Bethel: Bearings of Second Millennium BCE Ugaritic Mythology upon First Millennium BCE Israelite Religion (honors thesis project, University of Tennessee, 2016), (accessed ...), pp. 36-37.

10. Note: Abigail R. Zammit, The Epigraphic Evidence for the History of Religion in the Kingdom of Judah, (master's thesis, University of Oxford, May 2012), (accessed ...), pp. 11-13.

11. Note: Nabulsi, p. 183.

12. Note: Malamud, p. 2.

13. Note: Wiggins.

14. Note: Malamud, p. 17.

15. Note: Thomas, p. 37.

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud [1975] (8th Century BCE)

Pithos A

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A | Ze’ev Meshel

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A; Ze’ev Meshel. Source: Meshel (1978).A1

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A | Haaretz

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A; Haaretz. Source: Hasson (2018).A2

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A | Ze’ev Meshel and Avraham Hai

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A; Ze’ev Meshel, Avraham Hai. Source: BAS Staff (2019).A3

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A | Heather Dana Davis Parker

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos A; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).A4

ʾmr. ʾ... h...k. ʾmr. lyhl wlyw ʿšh. w...
brkt. ʾtkm.
lyhwh. šmrn. wl ʾšrth
X says [ʾmr. ʾ...h...k.]: say [ʾmr] to Yehal[lelʾel] [lyhl] and to Yoʿasah [wlywʿśh] and [to Z] [w...]:
I bless [brkt] you [ʾtkm]
by Yahweh [lyhwh] of Samaria [šmrn] and his asherah [wlʾšrth]

Transliteration and translation source: Malamud (2016): [Judith] Hadley’s widely used interpretation and translation of Pithos A.A5 Meshel (1979): The first portion of the inscription seems to be a statement in the form X said to Y and Z but only the word 'mr said and the name yw'sh Yo'asah are legible. The words following can be read in several ways. It is clearly a blessing which begins May you be blessed by Yahweh [lyhwh]. Then come the two final words smrn and wl'srth.A6

Grammatical analysis: Ryan Chin [2015], pp. 23-24.

Meshel (1979): [Pithos A] contains two drawings, one on either side. One of the drawings includes three figures: a seated woman playing the lyre; the god Bes in the center with his genitals (or tail) exposed between his legs; and another unidentified deity on the left similarly exposed. Bes stands in his characteristic stance, arms akimbo with his customary feathered headdress. Originally an Egyptian demi-god, in the course of time Bes was adopted by most other countries in the ancient Near East and figures depicting him have been found frequently in Syria, Phoenicia, and the Mediterranean islands. ... On the other side of this same large pithos is a drawing of a "tree-of-life," sprouting lily flowers, and flanked on either side by ibexes. Below the tree of life is a majestic lion in motion. This pithos also contains a drawing of a cow, head turned back, suckling its calf. These motifs are well known in the Syro-Phoenician world, and we found many close comparisons to the Ajrud drawings. It is easy to see that the artistic execution at Ajrud is not refined; we may be quite sure that the drawings were by local artists who, although isolated in the desert, were influenced by the Syro-Phoenician cultural environment.A7

Pithos B

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B | BAS Library

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B; BAS Library. Source: Shanks (2012).B1

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B | Heather Dana Davis Parker

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).B2

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B | Heather Dana Davis Parker

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).B3

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B | Haaretz

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B; Haaretz. Source: Hasson (2018).B4

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Pithos B; Heather Dana Davis Parker. Source: Parker (2013 Pt. II).B5

lyhwh • htmn • wlʾšrth
kl ʾšr • yšʾl • mʾš • ḥnn hʾb wʾm pth • wntn lh yhw
… by YHWH [lyhwh] of Teman [htmn] (and) by Asheratah [wlʾšrth].
Everything that he could ask from someone, the Father and Mother graciously gave him.
He requested, so YHW[H] gave him [wntn lh yhw]
what he desired [klbbh].

Transliteration and translation source: mostlydeadlanguages / Slightly Alive Translations.B6

ʾmryw ʾ-
mr l. ʾdny
hšlm. ʾt
brktk. ly-
wl ʾšrth. yb-
rk. wyšmrk
wyhy ʿm. ʾd[n]-

Amaryau says: [ʾmr ʾmryw]
say to [ʾmrl] my lord [ʾdny]:
Is it well [hšlm] with you [ʾt]?
I bless you [brktk]
by Yahweh [lyhwh] of Teman [tmn]
and by his asherah [wlʾšrth].
May he bless you [ybrk] and keep you [wyšmrk]
and be [wyhy] with [ʿm]
my lord [ʾdny]...

Transliteration and translation source: Malamud (2016): [Judith] Hadley’s reconstruction and interpretation.B7

Grammatical analysis: Ryan Chin [2015], pp. 23-24.

ṭ y k l m n s p [ ] ṣ q r š t
p ʿ ṣ q r š t
k l m n s p ʿ ṣ q r š t

Transliteration source: Parker (2013, 2018).B8

Meshel (1979): [Pithos B] contains a number of drawings, most of them poorly executed. These include the figure of a man drawing a bow, a cow (this time without a calf) and a striking scene of five figures standing in a row with arms upraised in a gesture of prayer. This pithos also contains a number of inscriptions and four Hebrew abecedaries. In these abecedaries the letter pe precedes the ayin, rather than the reverse, as is usually the case in the later Hebrew alphabet. This reversal of letters is also found in four acrostic paragraphs in the Bible (Lamentations 1-3 and Proverbs 31). Recently a Hebrew alphabet from the 11th century B.C. was discovered at Izbet Sartah in which the same letter reversal occurred. Apparently, the alphabetic order preserved in the 8th century Kuntillet Ajrud inscription is not an error, but a continuation of a much earlier alphabetic tradition. Another inscription on this pithos contains a blessing: 'mryw 'mrl.'dny h ... brktk.lyhwh ... / wl'srth.ybrk.wysmrk wyhy 'm.'dnu ... Amaryau said to my lord. ... may you be blessed by Yahweh and by his Asherah. Yahweh bless you and keep you and be with you ... B9

Stone Basin

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Stone Basin | Haaretz

Kuntillet ‘Ajrud Stone Basin; Haaretz. Source: Hasson (2018)C1

w bn ʿdnh
brk hʾ lyhw
(Belonging) to ‘Obadyau [lʿbdyw],
son [bn] of ‘Adnah [ʿdnh],
may he be blessed [brk hʾ] by Yahwe(h) [lyhw]

Transliteration and translation source: Meshel (1979).C2

Meshel (1979): A similar inscription [to the blessing on Pithos B] was incised on the rim of an enormous stone bowl found in the bench-room. ... Given the fact that the bowl weighs over 400 pounds, it is safe to say that the donor, one "Obadyau," was not only wealthy but also believed in the sanctity of the site. ... The donor's name "Obadyau", like most of the other private names, has the ending "yau" (common in the northern kingdom and known from the Samaria Ostracae and other finds) and not "yahu" (the common form in Judah). Does this show that the people who wrote the inscriptions came from the northern kingdom of Israel? This is another problem yet to be solved.C3


Meshel (1979): At Kuntillet Ajrud, a remote desert way-station in the wilderness of northern Sinai, we found evidence of the multiplicity of religious practices which provoked the prophets' fury. In three short seasons of excavation in 1975 and 1976 we uncovered a remarkable (and completely unexpected) collection of ancient Hebrew and Phoenician inscriptions painted on plaster walls and large storage jars, and incised on stone vessels. ... Kuntillet Ajrud was not merely a resting place for desert travelers but was principally a religious center. The inscriptions contain the names of El and Yahweh, words for God used in the Hebrew Bible. ... But the religious inscriptions from Kuntillet Ajrud also contain the names of pagan gods and goddesses, like Baal and Asherah.N1

Thomas, R. (n.d.): Over the years the inscriptions found at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud (KA) and Khirbet el-Qom (KQom) that mention an asherah in association with the god YHWH have attracted a staggering amount of discussion, and when considered as a whole what is most striking about this scholarly discourse is the degree to which it has been marked by persistent and wide divergence over the meaning of consonantal ʾšrth = אשרתה. While the prospect that the term may constitute evidence that a female deity was worshiped alongside YHWH in ancient Israel-Judah has been generally acknowledged, the question of whether it refers directly to a goddess has been hotly disputed, with not a few arguing that an object of some kind rather than a deity is in view.N2

Thomas, T. (2016): Kuntillet ‘Ajrud contains several inscriptions relating to deities including mentions of Yahweh, Ba’al, El, and Asherah. ... The two main inscriptions mentioning the word asherah (on Pithoi A and B) are most likely to be official inscriptions, rather than graffiti, possibly playing a similar role as inscriptions in Egyptian tradition wherein the text and iconography were responsible for ritually activating divine power. Because inscriptions at the site refer to Yahweh of Samaria, and because Israel controlled trade in the region during the early eighth century, the site has often been linked to the Northern Kingdom, and specifically the monarch Jeroboam II. However, there are also inscriptions from the site that mention Yahweh of Teman. In the biblical texts, Teman appears in the context of both Edom and Dedan, and the first part of Jer 3:3 reads, God came from Teman.N3

Meshel (1979): The most spectacular of the finds were two large pithoi (singular: pithos) or storage jars. Each of these storage jars is over three feet high and weighs (empty) almost thirty pounds. Although both pithoi were found in fragments, they proved to be almost completely restorable. On the outside of each of these pithoi were several crude, folk-art drawings in red and black ink as well as a number of religious inscriptions.N4

Finkelstein, Piasetzky (2008): The date of the Kuntillet ʿAjrud pottery has been debated. [Etan] Ayalon...dated the site to the end of 9th and beginning of the 8th century BCE. [Lily] Singer-Avitz...concluded that the abandonment of the site may have happened concurrently with the dramatic events in Judah during Sennacherib’s 701 BCE campaign, or perhaps a short while later and that the foundation of the site may have been linked to the Assyrian construction effort along the southern trade-routes, for instance at Tell Abu Salima, Ruqeish and Blakhiyah. Accordingly, Singer-Avitz proposed associating the northern pottery forms found at Kuntillet ʿAjrud with Israelite refugees who came to Judah after the fall of the North in 722/720 BCE. The two conflicting dates for Kuntillet ʿAjrud put the site in utterly different historical backgrounds: the first, during the high days of the Northern Kingdom, ca. 800 BCE, and the second under Assyrian auspices, ca. 700 BCE.N5

A1. Image: Ze’ev Meshel, Kuntillet ‘Ajrud: An Israelite Religious Center in Northern Sinai, Expedition Magazine (Penn Museum) 20.4 (1978), (accessed ...), Sherd showing a horse harnessed to a chariot.

A2. Drawing: Nir Hasson, A Strange Drawing Found in Sinai Could Undermine Our Entire Idea of Judaism, Haaretz, 04 April 2018, (accessed ...), Depiction of god and his wife? Found at Kuntillet Ajrud.

A3. Image: Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, Puzzling Finds from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, Bible History Daily (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]), 28 January 2019, (accessed ...), Yahweh and his Asherah is written across the top of this eighth-century B.C. drawing on a ceramic pithos, or storage jar, from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the eastern Sinai. Photo courtesy Dr. Ze’ev Meshel and Avraham Hai/Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology.

A4. Drawing: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions, Pt. II (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), Fig. 54: Kuntillet ‘Ajrud 3.1 - (Sample) Letter.

A5. Transliteration and translation: David Malamud, Asherah as an Israelite Goddess: Debunking the Cult Object Myth (research paper, University of Maryland, 9 May 2016), (accessed ...), p. 17.

A6. Note: Ze'ev Meshel, Did Yahweh Have a Consort? Biblical Archaeology Review [BAR] (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 5:2 (March/April 1979), (accessed ...).

A7. Ibid.

B1. Image: Hershel Shanks, The Persisting Uncertainties of Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, Biblical Archaeology Review [BAR] (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 38:6 (November/December 2012),

B2. Drawing: Parker (Part II), Fig. 56: Kuntillet ‘Ajrud 3.9 - Votive Text.

B3. Ibid., Fig. 55: Kuntillet ‘Ajrud 3.6 - (Sample) Letter.

B4. Image: Nir Hasson, Kuntillet Ajrud.

B5. Drawing: Parker (Part II), Fig. 57: Kuntillet ‘Ajrud 3.12, 3.13, and 3.14 - Abecedarie.

B6. mostlydeadlanguages / Slightly Alive Translations, Of YHWH and Asheratah (Kuntillet ‘Ajrud excerpts), 27 July 2017, (accessed ...).

B7. Transliteration and translation: Malamud, p. 17.

B8. Transliteration and translation: Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), pp. 203-204.

B9. Note: Meshel (1979).

C1. Image and drawing: Nir Hasson, A Strange Drawing Found in Sinai Could Undermine Our Entire Idea of Judaism, Haaretz, 04 April 2018, (accessed ...), Ancient Hebrew writing on the rim of a bowl found at Kuntillet Ajrud, dating to about 3,000 years ago.

C2. Transliteration and translation: Meshel (1979).

C3. Note: Ibid.

N1. Note: Meshel (1979).

N2. Note: Ryan Thomas, A New Analysis of YHWH’s Asherah, Religion and Literature of Ancient Palestine web site, n.d., (accessed ...), pp. 42-43.

N3. Note: Taylor Thomas, Ashes in Bethel: Bearings of Second Millennium BCE Ugaritic Mythology upon First Millennium BCE Israelite Religion (honors thesis project, University of Tennessee, 2016), (accessed ...), pp. 42-43.

N4. Note: Meshel (1979).

N5. Note: Israel Finkelstein, Eli Piasetzky, The Date of Kuntillet ʿAjrud: The 14C Perspective, Tel Aviv 35:2 (2008), (accessed ...), pp. 175-176.

Samaria Ostraca 1-63 [1910] (9th-8th Century BCE, ca. 850–750)

Samaria Ostraca 1-17 | Ron E. Tappy

Samaria Ostraca 1-17; Ron E. Tappy. Source: Tappy (2016).1

Samaria Ostraca 18-27 | Ron E. Tappy

Samaria Ostraca 18-27; Ron E. Tappy. Source: Tappy (2016).2

Samaria Ostraca 28-42 | Ron E. Tappy

Samaria Ostraca 28-42; Ron E. Tappy. Source: Tappy (2016).3

Samaria Ostraca 43-58 | Ron E. Tappy

Samaria Ostraca 43-58; Ron E. Tappy. Source: Tappy (2016).4

Samaria Ostraca 59-63 | Ron E. Tappy

Samaria Ostraca 59-63; Ron E. Tappy. Source: Tappy (2016).5


COJS: In 1910, George A. Reisner of the Harvard University excavation at Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel, uncovered a royal archive of ostraca. These documents, written on potsherds, recorded the palace’s receipt of wine or oil from outlying villages and estates. Wine and oil commodities were traditional forms of payment for taxes to the king.6

Wikipedia: The Samaria Ostraca are 102 ostraca found in 1910 in excavations in Sebastia, Nablus (ancient Samaria).... Of the 102, only 63 are legible. ... The primary inscriptions are known as KAI 183-188. These ostraca were found in the treasury of the palace of Ahab, king of Israel (Samaria) and probably date about his period, 850–750 BC.7

1. Drawing: Ron E. Tappy, The Archaeology of the Ostraca House at Israelite Samaria: Epigraphic Discoveries in Complicated Contexts, The annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 70 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2016), (accessed ...), p. 195, Plate I 1910 Ostraca: Nos. 1-17.

2. Ibid., p. 196, Plate II 1910 Ostraca: Nos. 18-27.

3. Ibid., p. 197, Plate III 1910 Ostraca: Nos. 28-42.

4. Ibid., p. 198, Plate IV 1910 Ostraca: Nos. 43-58.

5. Ibid., p. 199, Plate V 1910 Ostraca: Nos. 59-63.

6. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], Samaria Ostraca, 8th century BCE, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Samaria Ostraca, (accessed ...).

Moabite-Language Inscriptions

Wikipedia: Moabite is an extinct Canaanite language.... According to Glottolog, referencing Huehnergard & Rubin (2011), Moabite was not a distinct language from Hebrew. Moabite differed only dialectally from Hebrew, and Moabite religion and culture was related to that of the Israelites. On the other hand, although Moabite itself had begun to diverge, the script used in the 9th century BC did not differ from the script used in Hebrew inscriptions at that time.

Dennis Pardee [1979], p. 66: Mesha Stele: By far the most famous document from the area is the 34-line inscription discovered in Dhiban (ancient Dibon) in 1868. After the original discovery, the stela on which the text was inscribed was smashed by suspicious villagers (apparently thinking that a stone so eagerly sought after must contain riches), but a previous squeeze copy and the remaining fragments have permitted a fairly complete restoration of the text. ... Linguistically, the language of Mesha was quite close to that of contemporary Israel. Anyone who can read biblical Hebrew can, with some minor adjustments, read Moabite. It is of interest, though of negative interest, that in the more than one hundred years that have intervened since the discovery of the Mesha inscription practically no additional Moabite texts have been found [the most important exception is...[the] Inscription from Kerak], and, concurrently, no monumental royal inscriptions of Israelite or Judaean kings have been discovered with which to compare the Moabite text.

Royal Moabite Inscription [????] (8th Century BCE)

Royal Moabite Inscription | The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Royal Moabite Inscription; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.1

Royal Moabite Inscription | BAS Library

Royal Moabite Inscription; BAS Library. Source: BAS Library.2


The Israel Museum, Jerusalem: Iron Age II, mid-8th century BCE; Extended loan from Michael and Judy Steinhardt, New York.2

Routledge (2013): A recently published lapidary inscription of unknown provenance (apparently now in the private collection of Michael and Judy Steinhardt)...has been interpreted as Moabite. In the editio princeps of this new inscription, Shmuel Aḥituv read lines 3b–4a as wbʾsry . bnyʿmn [. bnty. l]mkrt . šʿr .ʾdr (“with Ammonite prisoners I built, for the reservoir, a great gate”). This reading has clear parallels to lines 25b–26a of the [Mesha Inscription], which reads wʾnk . krty . hmkrtt. lqrḥh . bʾsry . yšrʾl ("and I cut/dug the hmkrtt for Qrḥh with Israelite prisoners").3

1. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Royal Moabite inscription, (accessed ...).

2. Note: Ibid.

3. Note: Bruce Routledge, On Water Management in the Mesha Inscription and in Moab, Journal of Near Eastern Studies [JNES] (University of Chicago) 72:1 (April 2013), (accessed ...), p. 53.

Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription [2010] (9th-8th Century BCE)

Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription | Adam Bean

Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription; Adam Bean. Source: Eames, Reinsch (2019).1

Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription | Adam Bean

Ataruz Alter Pedestal Inscription; Adam Bean. Source: Eames, Reinsch (2019).2


Inscription A:
For/with 8 shekels of bronze
And this: 2 shekels of bronze
Total plunder: 10

Inscription B:
4 + 60 from the Hebrews …
And 4,000 foreign men were scattered, and abandoned in great number
From the desolate city … which … a burnt offering/incense altar
Acquired/acquiring? land…

Translation source: Eames, Reinsch (2019).


Eames, Reinsch (2019): The inscribed incense altar was discovered during the 2010 excavations at Khirbet Ataruz (biblical Ataroth), in Jordan. ... The 50 x 18.5 centimeter stone altar contains seven lines of text in two separate inscriptions: Three short horizontal lines make up Inscription A, and four longer vertical lines make up Inscription B. The inscriptions date to the late ninth–early eighth centuries B.C.E. ... This suggested identification of the term “Hebrews” would thus make the Ataruz Altar the earliest known inscription to mention the term (not including the 14th century use of the term Habiru in the Amarna Letters—see here for more detail). The translation is tentative, however. ... Alternatively, though, the original Moabite letters ‘brn could perhaps refer to the biblical location Abarim (spelled exactly the same way as “Hebrews,” in Hebrew), or something else entirely. ... The Mesha Stele dates to the mid-late ninth century B.C.E. Though a Moabite item, this stele was written in the Old Hebrew script. ... The Ataruz Inscriptions are written in a fledgling version of what eventually became a distinctive Moabite national script known from later finds.3

Rollston (2013): Based on the morphology, stance, and ductus of the script, I date the writing comfortably to the 9th century BCE. It would be most difficult to date the script of this pedestal to the 8th century.4

1. Image: Christopher Eames and Warren Reinsch, Moabite Altar Inscription: Earliest Reference to >Hebrews? Watch Jerusalem, 18 September 2019, (accessed ...), Moabite stone altar inscription [Adam Bean].

2. Drawing: Ibid., Sketch of the Ataruz Altar Inscription rotated on its side [Courtesy of Adam Bean/Council for British Research in the Levant].

3. Translation: Ibid.

3. Note: Ibid.

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Ninth Century ‘Moabite Pedestal Inscription’ from King Mesha’s Ataruz: Preliminary Synopsis of an Excavated Epigraphic Text and its Biblical Connections, Rollston Epigraphy, 17 December 2013, (accessed ...).

The Mesha Stele aka Mesha Inscription aka Moabite Stone [KAI 181, 1868] (9th Century BCE, ca. 840)

Mesha Stele | Mbzt

Mesha Stele; Mbzt. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Mesha Stele | Mark Lidzbarski (1898)

Mesha Stele; Mark Lidzbarski (1898). Source: Wikimedia Commons.2


COJS: F. A. 1868, spotted the stele in the possession of Bedouin living near Dibon. Before the stele was finally purchased, a drawn-out process that took several years to complete, the Bedouin became suspicious. Not understanding the stele’s historical value, they assumed that there must be a treasure inside it, so they cracked it open it by heating the stele and then pouring cold water over it. What remains of the original block are two large pieces and eighteen smaller fragments. Fortunately, a squeeze had been made of the inscription before it was broken, enabling a substantial restoration, with large hunks of plaster filling the gaps so that it stands as one piece. Today it is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris.3

Annie (n.d.): While in Jerusalem, [Charles] Clermont-Ganneau learnt from an Alsatian missionary, F.A. Klein, that a large block of black stone covered with characters had been found at Dhiban. He first sent an Arab intermediary from Jerusalem, Selim al-Qarim, who, in October 1869, made a schematic copy (today in the Louvre) of the inscription, which enabled Clermont-Ganneau to recognize the importance and early date of the monument. He then sent a second intermediary, Yaqoub Karavaca, to make a stamp of the inscription, in December 1869. It is not known exactly how and why this operation aroused the anger of the villagers: in the skirmish, the print was torn (but the pieces reached Clermont-Ganneau and eventually the Louvre) and the stele, hitherto intact, was broken into many pieces.4

Wikipedia: The stone was discovered intact by Frederick Augustus Klein, an Anglican missionary, at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban, Jordan), in August 1868. Klein was led to it by a local Bedouin, although neither of them could read the text. ... News of the finding set off a race between France, Britain, and Germany to acquire the piece. A "squeeze" (a papier-mâché impression) had been obtained by a local Arab on behalf of Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, an archaeologist based in the French consulate in Jerusalem. The next year, the stele was smashed into several fragments by the Bani Hamida tribe, seen as an act of defiance against the Ottoman authorities who had pressured the Bedouins to hand over the stele so that it could be given to Germany. ...In November 1869 the stele was broken by the local Bedouin tribe (the Bani Hamida) after the Ottoman government became involved in the ownership dispute.[18] The previous year the Bani Hamida had been defeated by an expedition to Balqa led by Reşid Pasha, the Wali of Damascus. Knowing that a demand to give up the stone to the German Consulate had been ordered by the Ottomans, and finding that the ruler of Salt was about to put pressure upon them, they heated the stele in a bonfire, threw cold water upon it and broke it to pieces with boulders.5

COJS: Important features of the stele include an early reference to Yahweh as God of the Israelites and, according to Bible scholar André Lemaire who recently reexamined the Mesha Stele, it appears to mention the “House of David,” the same designation given to the kingdom of Israel in the Tel Dan Stele.6

Azevedo (1994): 850 BC.7

1. Mbzt, P1120870 Louvre stèle de Mésha AO5066 rwk, Wikimedia Commons, 15 October 2012,èle_de_Mésha_AO5066_rwk.JPG (accessed ...).

2. Mark Lidzbarski (1898), Mesha Stele drawing, Wikimedia Commons, 8 February 2012, (accessed ...).

3. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], Moabite Stone, c. 840 BCE, (accessed ...).

4. Note: Caubet Annie, The Mesha Stele, Musée du Louvre, n.d., (accessed ...).

5. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Mesha Stele, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Annie.

7. Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

El-Kerak Inscription [KAI 306, 1958] (9th century BCE, ca. 840)

El-Kerak Inscription | Wikimedia Commons

El-Kerak Inscription. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

k]mšyt mlk mʾb hd[ybny
bby]t kmš lmbʿr ky ʾh[bty
]nh whn ʿšty ʾt [
K]mšyt, king of Moab, the D[ibonite
in the temple of] Kemoš in sacrifice, because [I loved
] and lo, I made [

Transliteration and translation source: Mnamon.


USC Dornsife: The inscription pictured here is in a language called Moabite. Moabite is a language very much like ancient Hebrew and it was spoken by the people who lived in the country of Moab.3

Wikipedia: The inscription contains 3 incomplete lines, comprising 8 complete words and fragments of 5 more, all written in the "Moabite language" known from only one other artifact - the Mesha Stele.4

1. Image: Jordan Archaeological Museum, J 6807 El-Kerak Inscription, Jordan Archaeological Museum, Wikimedia Commons, 21 May 2020,,_Jordan_Archaeological_Museum.png (accessed ...).

2. Transliteration and translation: Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean, Moabite - 9th-6th century BC: Examples of writing, (accessed ...), Moabite inscription from El-Kerak (first or second half of the 9th century BC).

3. Note: USC Dornsife, The El-Kerak Inscription, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...), Background.

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. El-Kerak Inscription, (accessed ...), Inscription.

Ammonite-Language Inscriptions

Wikipedia: Ammonite is the extinct Canaanite language of the Ammonite. ... It was extremely similar to Biblical Hebrew, with some possible Aramaic influence.... It was first described as a separate language in 1970 by Italian Orientalist Giovanni Garbini. Subsequently, a number of inscriptions previously identified as Hebrew, Phoenician, or Aramaic were reclassified, as a result of consensus around the similarity of the Amman Theatre Inscription, Amman Citadel Inscription, Tell Siren Bottle, Heshbon Ostraca, and Tell el-Mazer Ostraca. ... According to Glottolog, referencing Huehnergard & Rubin (2011), Ammonite was not a distinct language from Hebrew.

USC Dornsife: The language of the Ammonites is closely related to Hebrew and ancient Phoenician, but the script they used is much closer to the script used for Aramaic at that time. It has been dated to the 9th c. B.C.E.

Richelle (2018): pp. 49-52, As is well known, the Ammonite script derives from the Aramaic one, but local scribes developed idiosyncratic features which clearly appear, for instance, in the inscription engraved on the Tell Siran bottle. Although J. Naveh regarded the script used by the Ammonites as an Aramaic one, Cross preferred to speak of a distinct “national” script. ... A precise definition of what should be labelled national script still eludes us. But the Ammonite writing tradition probably remained in close contact with Aramaic script and was influenced by it, which renders the task of classifying [Ammonite] inscriptions [as Ammonite or Aramaic script] somewhat complicated. ... While the corpus of ink ostraca which can be regarded as written by Ammonite scribes is larger, the published ink ostraca which seem to exhibit distinctive Ammonite script features are the following: A1, A2 and A3; Mazar 3, 4 and 5; ʿUmeyri 2 and Jalul 1

Pardee (1979): pp. 66-67, Inscriptions in Ammonite, though still rare, have begun to accumulate in recent years, with several literary types represented, primarily monumental inscriptions, economic texts written on ostraca, and seals. An Ammonite inscription is perceived principally by script (about 750 B.C. the Ammonite script began diverging from the parent Aramaic and about 500 B.C. the local script was abandoned in favor of the standard Aramaic cursive) and by find spot.

Heshbon Ostracon A1/Heshbon Ostracon IV [1973] (6th Century BCE)

Heshbon Ostracon A1 | USC Dornsife

Heshbon Ostracon A1; USC Dornsife. Source: USC Dornsife.

Heshbon Ostracon A1 | Matthieu Richelle, Michael Weigl

Heshbon Ostracon A1; Matthieu Richelle, Michael Weigl. Source: Richelle, Weigl (2009).2

[𐤋]𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤟 𐤀𐤊𐤋 𐤘𐤛𐤚𐤛[
𐤅𐤑𐤀𐤍 𐤛𐤛𐤛
𐤅𐤋𐤍𐤃𐤁𐤀𐤋 𐤁𐤍 𐤍𐤒𐤌𐤀𐤋 𐤊[𐤎𐤐
𐤋𐤆𐤀-[𐤁]𐤍𐤀𐤋𐤕𐤌𐤊 𐤁𐤕 𐤗𐤚 𐤀𐤊[𐤋
𐤋𐤉𐤀[ ]𐤊𐤐𐤀𐤕𐤟𐤅𐤓𐤇𐤁𐤕 𐤚 𐤅[
𐤋𐤁𐤏𐤔[𐤀 ]𐤊𐤎𐤐 𐤘𐤘 𐤅𐤔 𐤍𐤕𐤍[
𐤉𐤍 𐤘𐤚 𐤅𐤑𐤀𐤍 𐤗 𐤅𐤁𐤁𐤕[
𐤉𐤍 𐤛𐤛𐤚 𐤅𐤀𐤊𐤋 𐤛𐤛
𐤋𐤉𐤕𐤁 𐤃𐤔𐤀 𐤀𐤊𐤋 𐤘𐤛𐤖
𐤅𐤉𐤍 𐤛𐤛𐤛
𐤅𐤓𐤇𐤁𐤕 𐤛
[l]mlk. ʾkl 20+8[
wṣʾn 9
wlndbʾl bn nqmʾl k[sp
lzʾ-[b]nʾltmk bt 10+2 ʾk[l
lyʾ[ ]kpʾt.wrḥbt 2 w[
lbʿš[ʾ ]ksp 20+20 wš ntn-[
yn 20+2 wṣʾn 10 wbbt[
yn 8 wʾkl 6
lytb dšʾ ʾkl 20+4
wyn 9-
wrḥbt 3
To mlk, grain: 28
and small cattle: 9
and to ndbʾl son of nqmʾl, sil[ver
To -[so]n of ʾltmk, bath: 12, gr[ain
To [ ] and jars: 2 and [
To bʿš[ʾ], silver: 40 and what he gave [
wine: 22 and small cattle: 10 and merchandise/sheep [
wine: 8 and grain: 6
To ytb hay, grain: 24
and wine: 9-
and jars: 3

Transliteration and translation source: Richelle (2018).


USC Dornsife: The eleven-line inscription is an economic text listing amounts of grain, cattle, flour, and wine, which Prof. Cross of Harvard University calls a tax receipt.4

1. Image: USC Dornsife, Heshbon Ostraca, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...), Heshbon Ostraca #4.

2. Drawing: Matthieu Richelle and Michael Weigl, Hisban Ostracon A1: New Collation and New Readings, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 53 (2009), (accessed ...), p. 9, Fig. 9: Drawing of ostracon A1.

3. Transliteration and translation: Matthieu Richelle, Revisiting the Ammonite Ostraca, Maarav 22.1-2 (2018), (accessed ...), p. 53.

4. Note: USC Dornsife.

Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 [1986] (6th Century BCE)

Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Recto | Matthieu Richelle

Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Recto; Matthieu Richelle. Source: Richelle (2018).1

Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Verso | Matthieu Richelle

Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Verso; Matthieu Richelle. Source: Richelle (2018).2


𐤔𐤋𐤌𐤀-𐤕𐤟𐤅𐤏𐤕𐤟𐤔𐤃𐤁𐤓𐤕𐤀𐤕𐤊[ ]

ʾmr.plṭ. ʾmr.lʾḥh.lʿbdʾ[l.h]
šlm ʾ-t.wʿt.šdbrt ʾtk[ ]
k[r]tw.lmšʿrt.lšbṣ. nʿr[t]
wʿ lplṭ.dy[h]
l yšb.b ʾ.
] ʾḥh[

Message from plṭ: “say to his brother, to ʿbdʾ[l]:
“Are you well? And now, (regarding) what I discussed with you [ ],
they have c[u]t wool (?) to weave, the young wo[men].
And now, give plṭ what [he] needs
[ ] he will give back. Go . . .”

]his brother[

Transliteration and translation source: Richelle (2018).3

1. Image: Matthieu Richelle, Revisiting the Ammonite Ostraca, Maarav 22.1-2 (2018), (accessed ...), p. 131, Plate III: Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Recto.

2. Ibid., p. 132, Plate IV: Tell el-Mazar Ostracon 3 Verso.

3. Ibid., p. 57.

Jalul Ostracon 1 [2008] (6th Century BCE)

Jalul Ostracon 1 | Matthieu Richelle

Jalul Ostracon 1; Matthieu Richelle. Source: Richelle (2018).1

𐤘 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤇𐤀 𐤛𐤖
𐤘(?) 𐤇𐤋𐤔 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤇𐤕𐤀𐤁 𐤖 𐤋̣
𐤘 𐤇𐤋𐤀 𐤛
[ ] 𐤍𐤌𐤔 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤌𐤉𐤀 𐤖 𐤋̣
𐤘 𐤄𐤑𐤋𐤀𐤋 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤃𐤀 ? 𐤚 𐤋̣
20 bn ʾḥʾ 4
20(?) ḥlš bn ʾtʾb 1 ḷ
20 ḥlʾ 3
[ ] nmš bn ʾmyʾ 1 ḷ
20 hṣlʾl bn ʾdʾ ? 2 ḷ
20 son of ʾAḥaʾ 4
20(?) Ḥallaš son of ʾḥtʾb 1 seʾah(?)
20 Ḥalaʾ 3
[ ] Nemeš son of ʾUmmayaʾ 1 seʾah(?)
20 and hṣlʾl son of ʾAddaʾ ? 2 seʾah(?)

Transcription and translation: Richelle (2018): This ostracon has been remarkably well published in a recent article by R. E. Gane, and I only suggest two corrections.2

𐤘 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤇𐤀 𐤛𐤖
𐤘(?) 𐤇𐤋𐤔 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤁𐤅𐤕𐤀𐤁 𐤖 𐤋̣
𐤘 𐤇𐤋𐤀 𐤛
[ ] 𐤍𐤌𐤔 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤌𐤉𐤀 𐤖 𐤋̣
𐤘 𐤅𐤁𐤑𐤋𐤀𐤋 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤃𐤀 ? 𐤚 𐤋̣
20 bn ʾḥʾ 4
20(?) ḥlš bn ʾbwtʾb 1 ḷ
20 ḥlʾ 3
[ ] nmš bn ʾmyʾ 1 ḷ
20 wbṣlʾl bn ʾdʾ ? 2 ḷ
20 son of ʾAḥaʾ 4
20(?) Ḥallaš son of ʾabu-taʾab 1 seʾah(?)
20 Ḥalaʾ 3
[ ] Nemeš son of ʾUmmayaʾ 1 seʾah(?)
20 and Beṣalʾil son of ʾAddaʾ ? 2 seʾahs(?)

Transcription and translation: Gane (2008).3


Gane (2008): At the right margin of lines 1-3 and 5 (with a possible trace remaining in line 4) and somewhat separate from each line of text is a single character, apparently representing a number. That these are numerals is reinforced by the fact that the shape of the characters at the beginnings of lines 1, 3, and 5 (resembling our symbol "2") is similar to that of the hieratic numeral "20" in Ḥisbān/Hesban Ostracon A1.4

Gane (2008): Following identification [on Line 2] of the person and the numeral 1 (a single slash), there is a symbol that looks like the letter lamed with a dot under it. The same lamed-shaped symbol with dot also appears at the ends of lines 4 and 5, where persons are identified by name and father, but not in lines 1 and 3, which lack one or the other of these elements. In lines 2, 4, and 5 the "lamed" symbols follow slashes, each of which indicates "1," so it does not appear that the "lamed" is a larger number unit, which we would expect to precede the smaller units. In Arad Ostracon 41:1, 7, Aharoni and Naveh have interpreted a somewhat similar lamed-shaped symbol, following a dot that apparently represents a word divider, as "seʾah," a measure of grain. I would suggest that the symbol in Jalul Ostracon 1 also refers to a unit of measure, possibly "seʾah," but the dot under it must be part of the sign rather than a word divider. Perhaps the dot is to indicate that the "lamed" is an abbreviation.5

1. Image: Matthieu Richelle, Revisiting the Ammonite Ostraca, Maarav 22.1-2 (2018), (accessed ...), p. 133, Plate V: Jalul Ostracon 1.

2. Transcription and translation: Ibid., p. 61.

3. Transliteration and translation: Roy E. Gane, Jalul Ostracon 1, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 351 (August 2008), (accessed ...), p. 73.

4. Note: Ibid., p. 74.

5. Ibid., p. 78.

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle [1972] (7th century BCE, ca. 600)

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle | Juergen Liepe

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle; Juergen Liepe. Source: Rawashdeh (2018).1

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle | The Jordan Museum

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle; The Jordan Museum. Source: The Jordan Museum.2

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle | Beter Devries

Tell Siran Bronze Bottle; Beter Devries. Source: Mohammed (n.d.).3

𐤌𐤏𐤁𐤃 𐤏𐤌𐤍𐤁𐤃 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤁𐤍 𐤏𐤌𐤍
𐤁𐤍 𐤄𐤑𐤋𐤀𐤋 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤁𐤍 𐤏𐤌𐤍
𐤁𐤍 𐤏𐤌𐤍𐤃𐤁 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤁𐤍 𐤏𐤌𐤍
𐤄𐤊𐤓𐤌 𐤅𐤄𐤂𐤍𐤕 𐤅𐤄𐤀𐤕𐤇𐤓
𐤉𐤂𐤋 𐤅𐤉𐤔𐤌𐤇
𐤁𐤉𐤅𐤌𐤕 𐤓𐤁𐤌 𐤅𐤁𐤔𐤍𐤕
mʿbd ʿmnbd mlk bn ʿmn
bn hṣlʾl mlk bn ʿmn
bn ʿmndb mlk bn ʿmn
hkrm whgnt whʾtḥr
ygl wyšmḥ
bywmt rbm wbšnt
The works of ‘mndb, king of the sons of Ammon,
son of Hṣl′l, king of the sons of Ammon,
son of ‘mndb, king of the sons of Ammon,
(which are) the vineyard and the garden and the channel (?)
and the cistern,
may they give joy and happiness
for many long days and years
to come
The works [mʿbd] of ʿAmminadab [ʿmnbd] the king [mlk] of the Ammonites [bn ʿmn, lit. sons of Ammon],
son of Hasalʾl [bn hṣlʾl] the king [mlk] of the Ammonites [bn ʿmn],
son of ʿAmminadab [bn ʿmndb] the king [mlk] of the Ammonites [bn ʿmn],
the vineyard [hkrm] and the garden [whgnt] and the temple [whʾtḥr],
and cisterns [wʾšḥt],
may he rejoice and be glad [ygl wyšmḥ],
for many days and years [bywmt rbm wbšnt],
long [rḥqt]

Transliteration and translation source: Mnamon.4

Translation source: The Jordan Museum.5


Pardee (1979): The Ammonite inscription which has to date yielded the most politico-historical information was written on a very unmonumental medium: a small bronze bottle, only 10 cm. in length. On the outside of this bottle, inscribed with a sharp instrument, is an eight-line text written by a certain Amminadab, king of the Ammonites, whose father (Hiṣṣalel) and grandfather (an- other Amminadab) were both kings of the Ammonites.6

The Jordan Museum: Three generations of Ammonite kings, who ruled the northern mountainous area of Jordan, are mentioned in the text that is inscribed on this bottle: Amminadab, his father Hasall, and his grandfather Amminadab.7

Mohammed (n.d.): The Ammonite inscription of Tell Siran from Jordan has been misunderstood. ... The common and generally accepted understanding is really a bit weird. First: The supposed...king of the Ammonite, who is supposed to be the son of another king of the Ammonite, and the grandson of a third king of the Ammonite, has not [found] it strange to (publish) his (great!) deeds on a small bronze bottle. Second: The supposed king also has not [found] it strange to proudly declare deeds that barely fit to be attributed to an ordinary small merchant rather than a king. Mohammed (n.d.): There are no kings in the inscription. The word mlk which has been understood to mean king is actually to be vocalized as mallaka which means transformed ownership or sold. This means the the text is a selling and purchasing contract. Mohammed (n.d.): The language of the text is close to North Arabian languages, and it has to be read in the light of Arabic rather than Hebrew.8

The Jordan Museum: Probably Iron Age II C (600 BC).9

1. Image: Saeb Rawashdeh, Scholar presents differences between Arabian, Arabia and Arabic, The Jordan Times 30 April 2018,’ (accessed ...), Tall Siran Ammonite inscription (Photo by Juergen Liepe).

2. Image: The Jordan Museum, Tel Siran bronze bottle bearing an inscription Ammonia revealing 3 Ammonites kings names, Twitter, 25 October 2016, (accessed ...).

3. Drawing: Zakaria Mohammed, The three false kings of the bottle: how we misunderstood the Ammonite Inscription of Tell Siran, n.d., (accessed ...), Drawing by Beter Devries.

4. Transliteration and translation: Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean, Ammonite - 9th-6th century BC: Examples of writing, (accessed ...), Bronze bottle from Tel Siran (7th century BC).

5. Transliteration and translation: The Jordan Museum (2016).

6. Note: Dennis Pardee, Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria. II: Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, and Eclomite Inscriptions, in Andrews University Seminary Studies 17:1 (Spring 1979), [pp. 47-69] (accessed ...), p. 67.

7. Note: The Jordan Museum, Tall Siran Bottle, Universes in Universe, 2015, (accessed ...).

8. Note: Mohammed.

9. Note: The Jordan Museum.

Amman Theater Inscription [1961] (7th century BCE, ca. 600)

Amman Theater Inscription | William J. Fulco

Amman Theater Inscription; William J. Fulco. Source: Fulco (1979).1 (Images of the inscription: Nathaniel E. Greene and Heather Dana Davis Parker, pp. 220, 221, Figs. 6, 7.)

bn ʿm[y]
baʿal ʾabneh, ʾAbneh being a place name
ben ʿammi = an Ammonite

Transliteration and translation source: Fulco (1979).2


MacDonald (1999): The Theatre Inscription...bears two lines of writing including the words bnʿmn[nʾ (Ammonites). Scholars are fairly unanimous in dating it to ca. 600 B.C.3

1. Image: William J. Fulco, The Amman Theater Inscription, Journal of Near East Studies 38:1 (January 1979), (accessed ...), p. 37, Fig. 1: The Amman Theater Inscription, National Museum, Amman (author's drawing).

2. Transliteration and translation: Ibid., p. 37.

3. Note: Burton MacDonald, Chapter Two: Ammonite Territory and Sites, in Ancient Ammon, ed. Burton MacDonald and Randall W. Younker (Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 40.

Amman Statue Inscription aka Statue of Yerah Azar [????] (8th century BCE, ca. ????)

Amman Statue | Department of Antiquities of Jordan

Amman Statue; Department of Antiquities of Jordan. Source: Burnett, Gharib (2019).1

Amman Statue Inscription; Fawzi Zayadines

Amman Statue Inscription; Fawzi Zayadine. Source: Zayadine (1974).2

Amman Statue Detail | Fawzi Zayadine

Amman Statue Detail; Fawzi Zayadine. Source: Zayadine (1974).3

[broken]šwyrḥ ʿzr
[broken]kr br šnb
[broken]šw Yarḥʿazar
[broken]kr son of Šanib

Transliteration and translation source: Tyson (2019).4


Rollston (2010): The Amman Statue Inscription was discovered several decades ago in the Jordanian city of Amman. Along the front base of this statue is an inscription that has been lightly incised into plaster. Since the time of its discovery, some of the plaster has flaked off. At the time of its discovery, there was debate about the readings, but most have concurred with /Yrhʿzr/, a personal name meaning the moon god has assisted, followed by a patronymic. Some have argued that the script is Aramaic, but some have suggested it is Ammonite.5

MacDonald (1999): The Statue Inscription is one of several statues found in ʿAmman. It has an inscription consisting of two lines on its pedestal which [F.] Zayadine reads as Yerahʿazar, son of Sanib.6

1. Image: Joel S. Burnett and Romel Gharib, The Amman Theatre Statue and the Ammonite Royal Ancestor Cult, The Ancient Near East Today (ASOR) VII:12 (December 2019), (accessed ...), Inscribed Statue of Yrḥ‘zr from Amman Citadel (Jabal al-Qal‘a). Department of Antiquities of Jordan.

2. Drawing: F. Zayadine, Note sur l'inscription de la statue d'Amman J. 1656, Syria LI (1974), [pp. 129-136] (accessed ...), p. 133, Fig. 3: Fac-simile de l'auteur.

3. Image: Ibid., p. 130, Plate IV: Inscription de la statue d'Ammon.

4. Transliteration and translation: Craig W. Tyson, The Religion of the Ammonites: A Specimen of Levantine Religion from the Iron Age II (ca. 1000–500 BCE), Religions (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute [MDPI]) 10:3 (2019), (accessed ...), article 153, p. 8.

5. Christopher A. Rollston, Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age, Archaeology and Biblical Studies 11 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature [SBL], 2010), [pp. 29-76] (accessed ...), p. 60.

6. Note: Burton MacDonald, Chapter Two: Ammonite Territory and Sites, in Ancient Ammon, ed. Burton MacDonald and Randall W. Younker (Leiden, Boston, Köln: Brill, 2019), (accessed ...), p. 40.

Amman Citadel Inscription [KAI 307, 1961] (9th century BCE, ca. 800)

Amman Citadel Inscription | Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research

Amman Citadel Inscription; Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research. Source: Burlingame (2016).1

Amman Citadel Inscription | Siegfried Horn/BASOR

Amman Citadel Inscription; Siegfried Horn/BASOR. Source: Reinsch (2019).2

[...m]lkm. bnh. lk. mbʾt. sbbt[...]
[...]. k kl.msbb ʿlk. mt ymtn[...]
[.....]kḥd.ʾk⸢ḥd.⸣ wkl mʿbr[...]
[...]wbkl. s⸢d⸣rt ylnn. ṣd⸢q⸣[...]
[...]l. tdlt bdlt. bṭn kbh[...]
[.....]h. tštʿ. bbn. ʾlm [...]
[......]wš[-]⸢h⸣. wn[...]
[.......]šlm. lk . wš[...]
[Thus says (?) Mi]lkom, “Build for yourself entrances around [X...]
...for/that all who surround you will surely die...
...I will certainly destroy/reject, and all who cause to enter (?)...
...and among all (the) colonnades shall the just lodge... shall equip with a door the interior of its sanctuary... shall fear the son/sons of the gods...
...well-being to you and we[ll-being to...]

Transliteration and translation source: Burlingame (2016).3


Pardee (1979): The most important of the Ammonite monumental inscriptions is the so-called Amman Citadel inscription.... [But] the text as preserved consists of only a fragment of the original, and it has yielded little of more than linguistic interest.4

Wikipedia: The Amman Citadel Inscription is the oldest known inscription in the so-called Ammonite language. ... It is the third longest Semitic stone inscription ever found, after the Mesha Stele and the Siloam inscription. ... The left and right sides of the inscription are missing parts, and the bottom line does not seem to include the end of the inscription. ... Due to the fragmented nature of the inscription, the translation remains uncertain.5

Burlingame (2016): The limestone slab bearing the inscription was apparently redressed for use in a secondary building context in antiquity, and this process resulted in the loss of the beginning and end of each line of the text. Several scholars have agreed that the first preserved line likely constituted the first line of the original inscription, but estimates regarding the amount of text lost along the edges of the inscription range broadly. Beyond this significant loss, the text has also suffered surface damage, with a number of lines rendered nearly illegible as a result. In spite of the fragmentary state of the Amman Citadel Inscription, its discovery occasioned celebration, as it constituted both the oldest and the longest Ammonite inscription extant—a distinction it continues to hold.6

Burlingame (2016): The importance of the fifth line of this inscription for the interpretation of the whole has not escaped the attention of those who have studied the text. Walter Aufrecht identified this line as “the most difficult (and, one might add, most significant) of the inscription.” ... As what is arguably the best-preserved line of the text, one would expect to find in line 5 clarity rather than further confusion. ... [Kent] Jackson, Klaas Smelik, and [Ulrich] Hübner have deemed it untranslatable. In fact, Hübner wonders whether the line ever made any sense, suggesting that errors on the part of those responsible for the inscription—perhaps particularly in this line—may have prompted the discard of the monument.7

Azevedo (1994): 8th BC.8

1. Image: Andrew Burlingame, Line Five of the Amman Citadel Inscription: History of Interpretation and a New Proposal, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 376 (2016), (accessed ...), p. 64, Fig. 1: The Amman Citadel Inscription. (Photograph by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research. Courtesy of the Department of Antiquities, Jordan).

2. Drawing: Warren Reinsch, Amman Citadel Inscription Supports Biblical History: Evidence of an early Ammonite civilization and an Ammonite god mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Watch Jerusalem, 6 August 2019 (accessed ...), Hand copy of the Amman Citadel Inscription [Siegfried Horn/Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research].

3. Transliteration and translation: Burlingame, pp. 67-68.

4. Note: Dennis Pardee, Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria. II: Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, and Eclomite Inscriptions, in Andrews University Seminary Studies 17:1 (Spring 1979), [pp. 47-69] (accessed ...), p. 67.

5. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Amman Citadel Inscription, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Burlingame, p .66.

7. Ibid., p. 68.

8. Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Edomite-Language Inscriptions

Dennis Pardee [1979], pp. 68-69: The poorest of the groups being discussed here is the Edomite. The only homogenous group of texts is from Tell el-Kheleifeh (near Eilat). This site yielded texts in Minaean, Judaean Hebrew, Edomite, Phoenician, and Aramaic. ... Lapidary script is found on a jar and on a seal whose imprint reads lqwsʿnl ʿbd hmlk, "(Belonging) to Qawsʿanal, servant of the king." ... In an unpublished 1972 Harvard Ph.D. dissertation, L. T. Geraty has argued that at least five of the eight third-century B.C. ostraca found in 1971 at Khirbet el-Kôm (near Hebron) are Edomite. ... One important problem that plagues the study of these texts is that of identifying them: for the present the dialects are distinguished from Hebrew, Aramaic, and between themselves by extremely few isoglosses. The identification by script is useful, but the Ammonite data indicate that Aramaic texts could be written in Ammonite script and vice versa.

Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS]: : Not only Edomite pottery, but Edomite writing has now been identified. Unfortunately, all these inscriptions are in very fragmentary condition. For this reason their contents tell us very little, but they do tell us a great deal about the paleography of the Edomite script and about the structure of the Edomite dialect. The largest Edomite inscription yet found is on an ostracon from Tell el-Kheleifeh. It is a fragmentary list of names. First identified as Edomite script by Professor Joseph Naveh of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, it is basically a west Semitic script that reflects the influence of contemporaneous Aramaic script. By the eighth to seventh centuries B.C., this Aramaic script had already begun to penetrate the region along with the Assyrian military campaigns. Other sites in the Judahite Negev also yielded Edomite inscriptions—two at Tel Aroer and one at Horvat ‘Uza. At Tel Aroer, an inscribed seal and a small Edomite ostracon fragment were found. At Horvat ‘Uza, we found a complete Edomite ostracon.

Tell el-Kheleifeh Ostracon No. 6043 [1941] (6th Century BCE)

Kheleifeh Ostracon 6043 | Nelson Glueck

Kheleifeh Ostracon 6043; Nelson Glueck. Source: Glueck (1941).1 (Additional image and drawing of ostracon: Christopher A. Rollston, p. 968, Figure 14.4: Kheleifeh Ostracon 6043. Photo and drawing: Glueck 1941:4-5).)


Transliteration and translation source: .


Pardee (1979): The poorest of the groups being discussed here is the Edomite. The only homogenous group of texts is from Tell el-Kheleifeh (near Eilat). This site yielded texts in Minaean, Judaean Hebrew, Edomite, Phoenician, and Aramaic. Edomite inscriptions in both cursive and lapidary script were discovered. The most important of the former (no. 6043) is a ten-line list of personal names, some Edomite (most easily identified are those with the divine element qws, representing the main Edomite deity.2

Beit-Arieh (1988): The largest Edomite inscription yet found is on an ostracon from Tell el-Kheleifeh. It is a fragmentary list of names. First identified as Edomite script by Professor Joseph Naveh of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, it is basically a west Semitic script that reflects the influence of contemporaneous Aramaic script.3

Rollston (2014): Several decades ago [1966], [J.] Naveh concluded that there was a distinct Edomite script. He concluded this, based on converging lines of evidence. Namely, the script of Kheleifeh Ostracon 6043 was similar to but different from the Aramaic, Old Hebrew, and Phoenician scripts. Moreover, some of the distinctive features were similar to the meager corpus of Moabite. ... [W. F.] Albright had previously discussed the typological features of the script of Ostracon 6043 in some detail, but it was Naveh who came to the conclusion that the script was a distinctive national script that could be termed Edomite.4

1. Image: Nelson Glueck, Ostraca from Elath, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 82 (April 1941), (accessed ...).

2. Note: Dennis Pardee, Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria. II: Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, and Eclomite Inscriptions, in Andrews University Seminary Studies 17:1 (Spring 1979), [pp. 47-69] (accessed ...), p. 68.

3. Note: Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, New Light on the Edomites, Biblical Archaeology Review [BAR] (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 14:2 (March/April 1988), (accessed ...).

4. Note: Christopher A. Rollston, The Iron Age Edomite Script and Language, chap. 14 in New Insights into the Iron Age Archaeology of Edom, Southern Jordan by Thomas E. Levy, Mohammad Najjar, and Erez Ben-Yosef (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press of UCLA, 2014), (accessed ...), vol. 2, p. 968.

Horvat Uza Inscription [1982-3] (7th-6th Century BCE)

Horvat Uza Inscription | Israel Museum / Neta Dror

Horvat Uza Inscription; Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Neta Dror. Source: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.1

Horvat Uza Inscription | Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Bruce Cresson

Horvat Uza Inscription; Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, Bruce Cresson. Source: Beit-Arieh, Cresson (1985).2

𐤅𐤄𐤓𐤌𐤏𐤆𐤀𐤋𐤟𐤏𐤋𐤌𐤆[𐤁𐤇 ---])
ʾmr lmlk.ʾmr . lblbl.
hs=lm.ʾt . whbrktk
lqws. wʿt. tn. ʾt. hʾkl.
ʾšr. ʿmd. ʾḥ ʾmh.pṣʿ
whrm ʿzʾl. ʿl mz[bḥ ---])
wysp. ḥmr. hʾkl
Message of Lamilk; Say to Blbl:
Are you well? I bless you
by Qaus! And now, give the grain,
which with ʾAhiʾummīh is damaged (pāṣūʿa),
and may ʿUzziʾil offer (it) on the al[ter of ...]
[thereby ad]ding a homer-measure of the grain.

Translation source: Na’aman (2012).3


Beit-Arieh, Cresson (1985): The inscribed with six lines of text in a large, widely spaced script. Almost all the words are separated from one another by a dot. Most of the inscription can be read, although a few letters in lines 1, 4 and 6 are either too blurred or too faint to be legible, partly because of surface flaking.4

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem: Inscription: (Thus) said Lumalak: Say to BLBL! Are you well? I bless you by Qaus. And now give the food (grain) that Ahiom […]. And may U[z]iel lift [it] upon (the altar?) … [lest] the food become leavened (?)5

1. Image: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Neta Dror, Inscribed potsherd (ostracon); IAA: 1987-656, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Itzhaq Beit-Arieh and Bruce Cresson, An Edomite Ostracon from Horvat 'Uza, Tel Aviv 12:1 (1985), (accessed ...), p. 96, Fig. 1: Facsimile of the ostracon.

3. Translation: Nadav Na’aman, A New Look at the Epigraphic Finds from Ḥorvat ʿUza, Tel Aviv 39:2 (2012), [pp. 212-229] (accessed ...), p. 215.

4. Note: Beit-Arieh and Cresson, p. 96.

5. Note: The Israel Museum.

Umm al-Biyara Ostracon [1966] (7th Century BCE)

Umm al-Biyara Ostracon | Omar Al-Ghul

Umm al-Biyara Ostracon; Omar Al-Ghul. Source: al-Ghul (2011).1

Umm al-Biyara Ostracon Inked | Omar Al-Ghul

Umm al-Biyara Ostracon Inked; Omar Al-Ghul. Source: al-Ghul (2011).2

šmn. r [. . .
mʿdr [.] m[. . .
bd.ʿ [. .] ʿ [. . .
Oil [for washing . . . . . .]
From ʿDr . . . . . .]
bd. [. . . . . .]

Transliteration and translation source: al-Ghul (2011).


al-Ghul (2011): Despite the brevity of the inscription and the poor state of preservation, the Umm al-Biyara ostracon remains one of the very few representatives of the ‘Edomite corpus’. For this reason alone the effort exerted to shed more light on it is justified. It should be noted that this study has been carried out on the basis of examination of a photograph and drawing of the ostracon: the original ostracon can no longer be located. ... The Umm al-Biyara ostracon was preliminarily published by J. T. Milik (1966), who read the inscription from the original with the help of infra-red images.4

1. Image: Omar Al-Ghul, The Ostracon, in The Umm al-Biyarah. Excavations by Crystal-M. Bennett in Petra 1960-1965, ed. Piotr Bienkowski, (Oxford: Oxbow Books and The Council for the British Research in the Levant, 2011), (accessed ...), p. 85, Figure 6.1: The Umm al-Biyara ostracon.

2. Ibid., p. 86, Figure 6.4: The Umm al-Biyara ostracon inked, with characters partly reconstructed.

3. Transliteration and translation: Al-Ghul, pp. 87-88.

4. Note: Ibid., p. 85.

Busayra Seal, p. 965.

Tel Aroer Ostracon [????] (7th Century BCE)

Tel Aroer Ostracon | Yifat Thareani

Tel Aroer Ostracon; Yifat Thareani. Source: Thareani (2011).1


Transliteration and translation source: .


Thareani (2011): This a body sherd with a few letters written in ink on four lines. The letters, most of which are faded, do not comprise a comprehensive text. Nevertheless, the visible characters are of special interest: Whereas the alef and he have Hebrew forms, the open dalet, resh and ʿayin are of typical Aramaic shape. This phenomenon is well attested in ostracon No. 6043 from Tell el-Kheleifeh (which is a name list in which some of the names include the theophoric element Qaus) and in other Edomite inscriptions. Thus the inscribed sherd from ʿAroer is presumably yet another Edomite ostracon. As its letter forms seem to be less developed than those of the above-mentioned ostracon from Tell el-Kheleifeh (which is probably from the 6th century BCE), the ʿAroer sherd can be dated to the 7th century BCE.2

1. Image: Yifat Thareani, Tel ‘Aroer: The Iron Age II Caravan Town and the Hellenistic-Early Roman Settlement; The Avraham Biran (1975-1982) and Rudolph Cohen (1975-1976) Excavations, Annual of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology VIII (Jerusalem: 2011), (accessed ...), p. 227, Fig. 3.122: Edomite ostracon – No. F/8565.

2. Note: Ibid., p. 227.

Qawsanal/Qausanal/Qosanal Seal Impression (Tell el-Kheleifeh) [????] (7th Century BCE)

Tell el-Kheleifeh Seal Impression | Bruce Zuckerman

Tell el-Kheleifeh Seal Impression; Bruce Zuckerman. Source: Zuckerman (2004).1

Tell el-Kheleifeh Seal Impression | Bruce Zuckerman

Tell el-Kheleifeh Seal Impression; Bruce Zuckerman. Source: Zuckerman (2004).2

ʿbd hmlk
(Belonging) to Qawsʿanal,
servant of the king

Transliteration and translation source: Pardee (1979).3


COJS: Seventh century Edomite seal, Belonging to Qaws‘anal, servant of the king, Archaeologist Nelson Glueck found 22 such seals at Tell el-Kheleifeh near the northern shore of the Gulf of Eilat, in the territory of ancient Edom.4

Pardee (1979): Lapidary script is found on a jar and on a seal whose imprint reads lqws'nl 'bd hmlk, (Belonging) to Qaws'anal, servant of the king. This seal probably belonged to a high official of an Edomite king who controlled the area of Eilat some time after Judah lost control of it in about 730 B.C.5

1. Image: Bruce Zuckerman, Shading the Difference: A Perspective on Epigraphic Perspectives of the Kheleifeh Jar Stamp Impressions, Maarav 11.2 (2004), (accessed ...), Fig. 1: Seal Impression on Kheleifeh Jar Handle 528.

2. Drawing: Ibid., Fig. 14: Drawing of the Kheleifeh Seal Impression.

3. Transliteration and translation: Dennis Pardee, Literary Sources for the History of Palestine and Syria. II: Hebrew, Moabite, Ammonite, and Eclomite Inscriptions, in Andrews University Seminary Studies 17:1 (Spring 1979), [pp. 47-69] (accessed ...), pp. 68-69.

4. Note: Center for Online Judaic Studies [COJS], Edomite Seal, 7th century BCE, (accessed ...).

5. Note: Pardee.

Tel Aroer Seal [????] (7th Century BCE)

Tel Aroer Seal | Yifat Thareani

Tel Aroer Seal; Yifat Thareani. Source: Thareani (2011).1

belonging to Qosa

Transliteration and translation source: Thareani (2011).2


MacDonald (2000): [A.] Biran and [R.] Cohen have unearthed both a seal and an ostracon at Tel Aroer that contain personal names with the theophoric element Qos, the Edomite diety.3

Thareani (2011): An Edomite seal bearing a private name. ... A single line borders the two registers and serves as a field divider. The upper register presents a crude couchant griffin. Above it is a circle with a tilted ankh in front. The bottom register contains an equally crude inscription. ... This private seal bears an Edomite inscription (belonging to Qosa). The name contains a theoforic element, the name of the Edomite god qaus.4

1. Image: Yifat Thareani, Tel ‘Aroer: The Iron Age II Caravan Town and the Hellenistic-Early Roman Settlement; The Avraham Biran (1975-1982) and Rudolph Cohen (1975-1976) Excavations, Annual of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology VIII (Jerusalem: 2011), (accessed ...), p. 466, Plate III: Edomite seal אסוקל – No. F/361/1.

2. Transliteration and translation: Ibid., p. 227.

3. Note: Burton MacDonald, East of the Jordan: Territories and Sites of the Hebrew Scriptures, ASOR Books 6 (Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2000) (accessed ...), p. 187.

4. Note: Thareani, p. 227.

Philistine Inscriptions

Naveh (1985): In the eastern Mediterranean area three independent scripts evolved and flourished: Phoenician, Hebrew and Aramaic. Other peoples who were in contact with one of these scripts adopted them. However, while our knowledge of writing in Ammon, Moab and Edom has been enriched recently, we still know very little about how the inhabitants of Philistia wrote in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.C.

?. Note: Joseph Naveh, Writing and Scripts in Seventh-Century B.C.E. Philistia: The New Evidence from Tell Jemmeh, Israel Exploration Journal [IEJ] 35:1 (1985), (accessed ...), p. 8.

Gitin, Dothan, Naveh (1997): The script of the Ekron dedication deserves special attention. In 1985, with the publication of three seventh-century B.C.E. ostraca from Tell Jemmeh, contemporary epigraphic finds from Philistine sites...demonstrated that in the seventh century B.C.E. the Philistines wrote in a script that they adopted from Judah, but into which they introduced local cursive elements. ... Some letters are clearly Hebrew in shape (mainly waw and taw), whereas others are reminiscent of Phoenician (bet, mainly in the word tbrkh in line 3). ... Most of the letters could be either Phoenician or Hebrew. ... It seems likely that the script belongs neither to the Phoenician nor the Hebrew series, but rather to some peculiar local script.?

?. Note: Seymour Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron, Israel Exploration Journal 47:1-2 (1997), (accessed ...), p. 13.

Gitin, Dothan, Naveh (1997): Until now, the inscriptions found in Philistia have contained mainly proper names; hence, the Ekron dedication is the first fluent text containing two whole phrases. However, it is still doubtful whether its language is Phoenician...or, preferably, that it represents the local West-Semitic dialect, spoken at Ekron and perhaps in the other Philistine states as well.?

?. Note: Seymour Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron, Israel Exploration Journal 47:1-2 (1997), (accessed ...), p. 15.

Ashkelon Seren Ostracon [????] (7th Century BCE)

Ashkelon Seren Ostracon | Zev Radovan

Ashkelon Seren Ostracon; Zev Radovan. Source: Davis, Maeir, Hitchcock (2015).2

pštm ṭrn bt m[]
flax (or linen): the tyrant of Beit M[ ]

Transliteration and translation source: Maeir, Davis, Hitchcock (2016): An inscription from late seventh-century BCE Ashkelon...transcribed by Frank Cross...and translated.2


Davis, Maeir, Hitchcock (2015): [A.] Zukerman (2011) has recently discussed the significance of the term trn with regard to Philistine culture and its connection with Greek tyrannos (tyrant, ruler,lord, governor), which originates from Luwian tarwanis, a common title of Neo-Hittite rulers, and rendered biblically as seren, the title of the rulers of the Philistine pentapolis cities.3

Maeir, Davis, Hitchcock (2016): The biblical term for the Philistine leader—seren, plural seranim—has...been associated with the later Greek title tyrannos (tyrant, ruler, lord, governor). ... [Alexander] Zukerman suggests that trn was a term that originated in the Aegean, and it was in continuous use from the twelfth century BCE onward. ... Frederico Giusfredi has...pointed out, the title tarwanis appears in Luwian inscriptions from the tenth to eighth centuries BCE. ... As Giusfredi notes, the most likely scenario is that the Luwian term tarwanis was borrowed both by the Greeks and the peoples of the southern Levant. .4

Fifteen Men on a Dead Seren's Chest: Yo Ho Ho and a Krater of Wine, Louise A. Hitchcock and Aren M. Maeir

The Appearance, Formation and Transformation of Philistine Culture: New Perspectives and New Finds, Aren M. Maeir and Louise A. Hitchcock.

Demsky (1998): Although he is identified in the Assyrian sources as king, in the Ekron inscription Achish bears the title sar, which can be translated ruler or mayor. The official publication of the inscription suggests that the use of sar may indicate that this title expresses the vassal’s loyalty to his Assyrian overlord—or more probably that the word means king in a Philistine-Canaanite dialect.

10. Note: Aaron Demsky, Discovering a Goddess, Biblical Archaeology Review [BAR] (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 24:5 (September/October 1998), (accessed ...).

Mariona Vernet Pons: We know very little about the language of the Philistines, apart from a very small number of loan-words which survive in Hebrew, describing Philistine institutions, such as the title padî (which has been compared to Gr. pÒsiw , Lat. potis , Ved. pati ‘master, lord’, etc.), the term s  r ! nîm , the lords of the Philistine Pentapolis, and the word / argáz , a receptacle that appears in the biblical passage of 1 Samuel 6 (Sapir 1936). No inscription written in the language of the Philistines has been found, apart from one forgery (Naveh 1982). 3 The oldest inscriptions from Philistia date from the ninth to seventh centuries BCE, towards the end of the local Iron Age. They are written in a Canaanite dialect similar to Phoenician, such as the Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron (KAI 286), which is the only one that contains full sentences (Gitin et al. 1997 and Schäfer-Lichtenberger 2000), and the brief inscrip-tions of Tell e s - S âf % /Gath from Iron Age IIA–IIB (Maeir et al. 2008 and 2012).

What language(s) did the Philistines speak? (ASOR Blog), Brent Eric Davis.

Titles of 7th Century BCE Philistine Rulers and their Historical-Cultural Background [PDF Download], Alexander Zukerman.

Iron Age I and Early Iron Age IIA Pottery, Alexander Zukerman.


1. Image: Brent Davis, Aren M . Maeir, and Louise A. Hitchcock, Disentangling Entangled Objects: Iron Age Inscriptions from Philistia as a Reflection of Cultural Processes, Israel Exploration Journal 65:2 (2015), [pp. 140–165] (accessed ...), p. 155, Fig. 7: Ashkelon seren inscription (photo-graph by Zev Radovan, courtesy of the LeonLevy Expedition to Ashkelon).

2. Transliteration and translation: Aren M . Maeir, Brent Davis, and Louise A. Hitchcock, Philistine Names and Terms Once Again: A Recent Perspective, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage [JEMAHS] (The Pennsylvania State University) 4:4 (2016), [pp. 321-340] (accessed ...), p. 334.

3. Note: Davis, Maeir, Hitchcock., (accessed ...), p. 155.

4. Note: Maeir, Davis, Hitchcock., p. 334.

Ekron Royal Dedicatory Inscription aka Ekron Inscription [KAI 286, 1996] (7th Century BCE)

Ekron Inscription | Oren Rozen

Ekron Inscription; Oren Rozen. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Ekron Inscription | Ada Yardeni

Ekron Inscription; Ada Yardeni. Source: Berlant (???).2

𐤉𐤎𐤃𐤟𐤁𐤍𐤟𐤀𐤃𐤀𐤟𐤁𐤍𐤟𐤉𐤏𐤓𐤟𐤔𐤓 𐤏𐤒
יסד.בן.אדא.בן.יער.שר עק
The temple (which) he built, ʾkyš son of Padi, son of
Ysd, son of Ada, son of Yaʿir, ruler of Ekron,
for Ptgyh his lady. May she bless him, and
prote[ct] him, and prolong his days, and bless
his [l]and.

Transliteration and translation source: Gitin, Dothan, Naveh (1997).3


Gitin, Dothan, Naveh (1997): The Ekron inscription was found Tel Miqne–Ekron. The tel...was identified as Ekron in 1957 by Joseph Naveh, based on his survey for the Israel Department of Antiquities. Ekron is known from the Bible as one of the five Philistine capital cities [Ekron, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gath].4

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The inscription is unique because it contains the name of a biblical city [Ekron] and five of its rulers, two of whom are mentioned as kings in texts other than the Bible.5

Wikipedia: It is written in a Canaanite dialect similar to Phoenician and Old Byblian, such that its discoverers referred to it as something of an enigma.6

Smoak (2017): Since its discovery, the vast majority of studies [of the so-called Ekron inscription]...have focused upon the identity of the goddess mentioned in line three, questions about the inscription’s importance for re-constructing Philistine history, and comparisons of the inscription’s blessing to contemporaneous blessing formulae.7

Gitin, Dothan, Naveh (1997): The inscription is complete and is composed of five lines. ... This is a dedication of Ikausu son of Padi, both of whom are known from the Assyrian records as kings of Ekron. ... The names of the forefathers of Ikausu — Ysd, Ada, and Yaʿir — appear here for the first time; these Semitic names, as well as Padi, occur in Ugaritic and Phoenician texts. ... The name Ikausu has been generally associated with the name of biblical אָכִיש, Achish, the Philistine king(s) of Gath in the times of Saul and of Solomon. Our inscription now confirms that...the West-Semitic transcription of the name...Ikausu was indeed אכיש.8

Fantalkin (2017): According to the inscription, Achish the son of Padi, built the temple at Ekron. The identification of Achish in the inscription with Ikausu of the Assyrian documents is today accepted by all scholars. Padi the son of Yasid, who is mentioned as well in the inscription, is also referred to in Assyrian documents of 701 and 699 BCE, and his son Achish/Ikausu is referred to in Assyrian documents of 673 and 667 BCE. We can thus date the reign of Achish/Ikausu at Ekron to somewhere in the range of the first half of the 7th century BCE.9

Demsky (1998): Both Achish and Padi are known from Assyrian records as kings of Ekron. [The name] Achish, or as the Assyrians pronounced his name, Ikausu, is...especially interesting because it is the name of a Philistine ruler of Gath mentioned in the Bible. When David fled from the wrath of King Saul, he joined the company of Achish of Gath (1 Samuel 21-11, 27-2). This Achish is of course not the same as the one referred to in the inscription: The Biblical Achish of Gath ruled in about 1000 B.C.E.; the Achish referred to in the Ekron inscription and in the Assyrian records is his seventh-century B.C.E. namesake. The continuity in names over more than three centuries may indicate that Ekron was the heir of neighboring Gath’s territory and culture.10

Berlant (2009): [Regarding the translation for Pt[g]yh his lady,] Gitin, Dothan, and Naveh went on to state that the questionable letter (indicated by the bracket in line 3 above) in the name of this goddess is undoubtedly an ancient form of the Hebrew letter gimmel [and] concluded that Ptgyh was surely a previously unknown Philistine and Indo-European deity. ... After inspecting the questionable letter closely, however, [A.] Demsky concluded that it is no more than a wedge shaped chip in the porous stone.11

1. Image: Oren Rozen, JRSLM 300116 Ekron inscription, Wikimedia Commons, 30 January 2016, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Stephen R. Berlant, The Mysterious Ekron Goddess Revisited, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society [JANES] 31:1 (2009), (accessed ...), p. 17, Fig. 2: Drawing of Ekron inscription by Ada Yardeni.

3. Transliteration and translation: Seymour Gitin, Trude Dothan, and Joseph Naveh, A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron, Israel Exploration Journal 47:1-2 (1997), (accessed ...), p. 9.

4. Note: Gitin, Dothan, and Naveh, p. 1.

5. Note: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ekron–A Philistine City, 23 November 1999, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Ekron Royal Dedicatory Inscription, (accessed ...).

7. Note: Jeremy Smoak, Inscribing Temple Space: The Ekron Dedication as Monumental Text, Journal of Near Eastern Studies [JNES] (University of Chicago) 76:2 (October 2017), [pp. 319-336] (accessed ...), pp. 321-322.

8. Note: Gitin, Dothan, and Naveh, pp. 8-11.

9. Note: Alexander Fantalkin, Toward the Identification of the Goddess of Ekron, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions [JANER] (Brill) 17 (2017), [pp. 97-115] (accessed ...), p. 97.

10. Note: Aaron Demsky, Discovering a Goddess, Biblical Archaeology Review [BAR] (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 24:5 (September/October 1998), (accessed ...).

11. Note: Berlant, pp. 15-16.

Ekron Store-Jar Inscription [1997] (7th Century BCE, 604 BCE)

Ekron Store-Jar Inscription | Seymour Gitin and Mordechai Cogan

Ekron Store-Jar Inscription; Seymour Gitin and Mordechai Cogan. Source: Gitin, Cogan (1999).1

Ekron Store-Jar Inscription | Ada Yardeni

Ekron Store-Jar Inscription; Ada Yardeni. Source: Schmitz (2008).2

lbʿl wlpdy
for Baal and for Padî

Transliteration and translation source: Schmitz (2008).3


Schmitz (2008): The personal name pdy Padî is a royal name at Ekron. It occurs in the first line of the royal dedicatory inscription from Ekron, and Padî is mentioned by name as king of Ekron in the annals of Sennacherib. ... The weight of evidence favors identifying pdy in the Ekron store-jar inscription as the same king.4

Gitin, Cogan (1999): The text of the inscription reads...for Baʿal and for Padi. While Baʿal-Zebub is cited as the god of Ekron in the Bible (2 Kings 1:2-3), the inscription is the first evidence of this or any other male diety to be found in the excavations at Ekron. The excavactions have, however, produced inscriptions with the names of goddesses: Asherat, which appears in two inscriptions, Qudšu, Anat, and, most importantly, Ptgyh, the goddess to whom the pillared sanctuary is dedicated. Baʿal, the storm and fertility god, was the consort of Asherah, as well as a descendent of El, the head of the Canaanite pantheon.5

Gitin, Cogan (1999): What is most striking is that this is the first instance in a West-Semitic inscription in which a god and a king are joined in a single dedication.6

Schmitz (2008): Expressions associating deity and royalty like this dedicatory formula are rare, but not unique to the Ekron store-jar inscription.7

Gitin, Cogan (1999): The two-word inscription...was found on two body sherds from the 640 B.C.E. Babylonian destruction debris. ... It was not possible to restore the jar on which the inscription was incised.8

1. Image: Seymour Gitin and Mordechai Cogan, A New Type of Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron, Israel Exploration Journal 49:3-4 (1999), [pp. 97-115] (accessed ...)p. 194, Fig. 1: New type of dedicatory inscription from Ekron.

2. Image: Philip Schmitz, Deity and Royalty in Dedicatory Formulae: The Ekron Store-Jar Inscription Viewed in the Light of Judges 7:18, 20 and the Inscribed Gold Medallion from the Douïmès Necropolis at Carthage (KAI 73), Maarav 15:2 (2008),ïmès_Necropolis_at_Carthage_KAI_73_Maarav_15_2_2008_165_73_appeared_in_2009_ (accessed ...), p. 3, Fig. 1: Tel Miqne Ostracon M75/96.

3. Transliteration and translation: Philip Schmitz, p. 2.

4. Note: Philip Schmitz, p. 2.

5. Note: Seymour Gitin and Mordechai Cogan, pp. 196-197.

6. Ibid., p. 197.

7. Note: Philip Schmitz, p. 2.

8. Note: Seymour Gitin and Mordechai Cogan, p. 193.

Tell Jemmeh Ostraca [1985] (8th-7th Century BCE)

Tell Jemmeh Ostraca | Haggai Misgav

Tell Jemmeh Ostraca; Haggai Misgav. Source: Maeir, Davis, Hitchcock (2016).1


Davis, Maeir, Hitchcock (2015): Tell Jemmeh during the Iron Age I–II was associated with the Philistine culture and in the later Iron Age was under Assyrian control. The dating of these two ostraca (late eighth to early seventh century and early- to mid-seventh century BCE respectively) indicates that both are products of the Assyrian period. Each sherd contains a series of names; in most cases, each name consists of two words separated by a dot.2

Fantalkin (2016): Naveh published two ostraca found in the course of the renewed excavations at Tell Jemmeh (1985). Each consists of a list of names. Both are written in Hebrew, although they possess a few peculiar (Philistine?) features. ... One ostracon contains only names; the other, not as well preserved, includes quantities of products given to each of the individuals mentioned in it.3

1. Images and drawings: Aren M . Maeir, Brent Davis, and Louise A. Hitchcock, Philistine Names and Terms Once Again: A Recent Perspective, Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage [JEMAHS] (The Pennsylvania State University) 4:4 (2016), [pp. 321-340] (accessed ...), p. 333, Fig. 11: Two ostraca with lists of names from Iron Age II Tell Jemmeh (Misgav 2014: fig. 30.1:a-b). (Courtesy of D. Ben-Shlomo.)

2. Note: Brent Davis, Aren M . Maeir, and Louise A. Hitchcock, Disentangling Entangled Objects: Iron Age Inscriptions from Philistia as a Reflection of Cultural Processes, Israel Exploration Journal 65:2 (2015), [pp. 140–165] (accessed ...), p. 153.

3. Note: Alexander Fantalkin, Was there a “Greek Renaissance” in 7th Century BCE Philistia? in Alphabets, Texts and Artefacts in the Ancient Near East: Studies Presented to Benjamin Sass Israel Finkelstein, Christian Robin, and Thomas Romer (Paris: Van Dieren, 2016), [pp. 83–99] (accessed ...), p. 84.

Deir Allah Inscription

Wikipedia: not generally accepted as Aramaic

Deir 'Alla Inscription [KAI 312, 1967] (9th-8th Century BCE, ca. 880–770 or 840-760)

Deir 'Alla Inscription | Jona Lendering

Deir 'Alla Inscription; Jona Lendering. Source:


Demsky (2007): In 1967, at Deir Alla, Jordan, archaeologists found an inscription containing a previously unknown prophecy by Balaam written in a previously unattested dialect with Aramaic and South Canaanite characteristics and employing an idiosyncratic script. The inscription is datable to ca. 840–760 BCE; it was painted on plaster in red and black ink.2

Wikipedia: Though containing some features of Aramaic, such as the word bar (son of [Beor]) rather than the Canaanite ben, it also has many elements of Canaanite languages, leading some to believe it was written in a dialect of Canaanite rather than an early form of Aramaic. The inscription has been dated to 880–770 BCE. It was painted in ink on fragments of a plastered wall; red and black inks were used, red apparently to emphasize certain parts of the text. In all, 119 pieces of ink-inscribed plaster were recovered. ... The text is difficult to read and to interpret.3

Millard (1982): The first line of the text, as restored by A. Caquot and A. Lemaire on the basis of Hoftijzer's edition, reads, The record (spr) of Balaam, son of Beor, the man who saw the gods. Now the gods came to him by night... Writing the text on the vertical plastered face of the wall, the scribe omitted to him before the gods and had to insert it above the line. (Similar omissions were rectified in two other places.) ... This inscription from Deir Alia probably represents a column of a scroll. It has the upper and left-hand margins ruled (the right was provided by the corner of the plastered face) and headings written in red ink in Egyptian style. It is the nearest we can come to the appearance of a book in Palestine about the time of the prophet Isaiah.4

1. Image: Jona Lendering, Deir 'Alla Inscription,, (accessed ...).

2. Note: Aaron Demsky, Reading Northwest Semitic Inscriptions, Near Eastern Archaeology 70:2 (2007), (accessed ...), p. 609 (caption).

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Deir Alla Inscription, (accessed ...).

4. Note: Alan R. Millard, In Praise of Ancient Scribes, The Biblical Archaeologist 45:2 (Summer 1982), (accessed ...), p. 40.

Aramaic-Language Inscriptions

Wikipedia: Historically and originally Aramaic was the language of the Arameans, a Semitic-speaking people of the region between the northern Levant and the northern Tigris valley. By around 1000 BCE, the Arameans had a string of kingdoms in what is now part of Syria Jordan and the fringes of southern Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Aramaic rose to prominence under the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BCE), under whose influence Aramaic became a prestige language after being adopted as a lingua franca of the empire, and its use spread throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant and parts of Asia Minor. At its height, variants of Aramaic, having gradually replaced earlier Semitic languages, and were spoken all over what is today Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Eastern Arabia, Bahrain, Sinai and parts of southeast and south central Turkey, and parts of northwest Iran. Aramaic was the language of Jesus, who spoke the Galilean dialect during his public ministry, as well as the language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and also one of the languages of the Talmud.

Jewish Virtual Library: Aramaic became the official language of the Achaemenid Empire and inscriptions in this language are found for this and later periods in North Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. The many papyri and ostraca from Elephantine, Hermopolis, and elsewhere in Egypt, and the Arsham letters are of prime importance. The Sheikh Faḍl inscriptions (fifth century) mentioning Tirhaka, Neco, and Psammetich and the silver bowls from Wadi Tumilat, mentioning Gashmu the Kedarite (cf. Neh. 2:19; 6:1, 2, 6) are noteworthy. Aramaic versions (on papyrus) of the Behistun and Naksh-i Rustam inscriptions of Darius I, albeit fragmentary, are known. The Taymā ʾ inscription attests to the penetration of Aramaic culture into North Arabia and the many Aramaic dockets on Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets (fifth century) attest to the spread of Aramaic there. These tablets often record business transactions of the Judean exiles.

Nimrud Ostracon [????] (??th Century BCE)

Drawing of the Nimrud OstraconCraig William Tyson [2011], p. 126.

Jewish Virtual Library: An interesting ostracon from Nimrūd presents a list of exiles with typical Israelite names. Excavations at Nimrūd have also produced inscribed objects (bronzes, ivories, and ostraca) in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician.

Arslan Tash Amulets [AT1 and AT2, 1933] (7th Century BCE)


Arslan Tash AT1 Recto | West Semitic Research Project

Arslan Tash AT1 Recto; West Semitic Research Project. Source: Fuad (n.d.).1

Arslan Tash AT1 Verso | West Semitic Research Project

Arslan Tash AT1 Verso; West Semitic Research Project. Source: Fuad (n.d.).2

Arslan Tash AT1 Recto | Dennis Pardee

Arslan Tash AT1 Recto; Dennis Pardee. Source: Pardee (1998).3

Arslan Tash AT1 Verso | Dennis Pardee

Arslan Tash AT1 Verso; Dennis Pardee. Source: Pardee (1998).4


𐤋𐤇𐤔⸢𐤕⸣ ⸢𐤋⸣𐤏 𐤕 𐤀𐤟𐤀𐤋 𐤕
𐤎𐤎𐤌𐤟 𐤁𐤍 𐤐𐤃 𐤓𐤑
𐤔𐤀 𐤀𐤋𐤅
𐤅𐤋𐤟𐤇𐤍 𐤒 𐤕𐤟𐤀
𐤌𐤓𐤟𐤁𐤕𐤀𐤁 𐤀𐤟
𐤁𐤋 𐤕𐤁 𐤀𐤍

𐤓𐤟𐤃𐤇𐤑𐤓𐤟 𐤀𐤃𐤓𐤊
𐤁𐤋𐤟𐤕𐤃 𐤓𐤊𐤍 𐤟𐤊[[𐤓]]
𐤓𐤕𐤟𐤋𐤍 𐤀𐤋𐤕
𐤏𐤋𐤌 𐤀𐤔𐤓𐤟𐤊𐤓𐤕
𐤋𐤍𐤟𐤅𐤊𐤋 𐤁𐤍𐤀𐤋𐤌𐤟
𐤅𐤓𐤁𐤟𐤃 𐤓 𐤊𐤋𐤟𐤒𐤃𐤔𐤍
𐤁𐤀𐤋𐤕𐤟𐤔 𐤌𐤌𐤟 𐤅𐤀𐤓𐤑𐤟⸢𐤏𐤃⸣
𐤏𐤋𐤌𐤟 𐤁𐤀𐤋𐤕𐤟𐤁𐤏𐤋


𐤌𐤍⸢𐤅⸣𐤟𐤀𐤔𐤕𐤟𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤒[𐤃]𐤔

𐤏𐤁𐤓 𐤐𐤏𐤌𐤟𐤐𐤏𐤌𐤟𐤋𐤋𐤆




ssm|bn pdr{š}
šʾ ʾlw
mr|bt ʾbʾ
bl tbʾn
ʿlm ʾšr|krt
ln|wkl bn ʾlm
wrb|dr kl|qdšn
...]⸢n⸣ ʾrṣ|bʾ⸢lt⸣[...
[ʾ]št ḥwrn|ʾš|[[d]]tm|py
mn⸢w⸣|ʾšt|bʿl q[d]š
ʿbr pʿm|pʿm|ll z
Incanta⸢tion for⸣ the F<l>iers; [lḥš⸢t⸣ ⸢l⸣ʿ<p>tʾ]
the oath of Ssm, son of Pdr: [ʾlt ssm bn pdr{š}]
Take to him, and say to the Stranglers, [šʾ ʾlw wl ḥnqt ʾmr]

The house (in which) I come, you ( will not come, [bt ʾbʾ bl tbʾn]

and the courtyard (in which) I enter, you ( will not enter. [wḥṣr ʾdrk bl tdrkn]
Aššur has made an eternal pact with us. [krrt ln ʾlt ʿlm ʾšr]

He and all the divine beings have made it with us, [krt ln wkl bn ʾlm]

and the leader(s) of the council of all our holy ones, [wrb dr kl qdšn]
by the oath of heaven and earth ⸢for⸣ever, [bʾlt šmm wʾrṣ⸢ ʿd⸣ ʿlm]
by the oath of Baal, [bʾlt bʿl]
...] the Earth, [...⸢n⸣ ʾrṣ] by the oath of [...] [bʾ⸢lt⸣...]
[the w]ife of Ḥawrān [ʾšt ḥwrn]
whose utterance is perfect, and her seven rival-wives, [ʾš dtm py wšbʿ ṣrty]
and the eighth, the wife of the h[ol]y master. [wšmn⸢w⸣ ʾšt bʿl qdš]
To the Fliers in the dark chamber, [lʿptʾ bḥdr ḥšk]
pass by immediately this night! [ʿbr pʿm pʿm ll z]
...] in his house, hit the road! [...⸢b⸣bty ḥṣ⸢t⸣ hlk]
I have de⸢nied access⸣ to the opening of his doorway, [m⸢nʿ⸣t lpyptḥy]

and will bring light to the doorpost. [wʾwr lmzzt]

The Sun is rising, ⸢like⸣ the moth [yṣʾ šmš ⸢k⸣ss]

vanish, and forever fly away! [ḥlp wldr ʿp]

Transcription and translation of AT1, Häberl (n.d.): Section A surrounds the figures on the front of the amulet. ... Section B surrounds the striding warrior figure on the back of the amulet. ... Section C of the text is inscribed upon the bottom of the amulet. ... Section D [is] found inscribed upon the surrounding edges of the amulet. ... Section E [is] engraved upon the sphinx. ... Section F is engraved upon the wolf-like creature. ... Section G [is] inscribed upon and beside the striding warrior figure.5


Arslan Tash AT2 Recto | Dennis Pardee

Arslan Tash AT2 Recto; Dennis Pardee. Source: Pardee (1998).61

Arslan Tash AT2 Verso | Dennis Pardee

Arslan Tash AT2 Verso; Dennis Pardee. Source: Pardee (1998).7

Arslan Tash AT2 | Dennis Pardee

Arslan Tash AT2; Dennis Pardee. Source: Pardee (1998).8


Häberl (n.d.): This amulet [AT1] bears a Phoenician incantation (or perhaps more accurately, two or more incantations) inscribed in an Aramaic script, on the basis of which it is dated to the 7th c. BCE.9

Jewish Virtual Library: The incantation plaque, in Aramaic script but Phoenician language, from Arslan Tash in upper Mesopotamia the symbiosis of the Canaanite and Mesopotamian cultures among the Arameans in the early seventh century.10

Brown (2019): Dated to the 7th century BCE, the Arslan Tash amulet (AT1) was discovered in Arslan Tash, Syria and contains the writing of Phoenician, magic incantations. ... The first incantation begins with a speaker addressing two demons and noting the divine sponsor of the tablet (lines 1-5). Those who are not permitted to enter the house include the Fliers and the Stranglers – types of demons; Sasam, son of Pidrišiša, is a god and the lord of the incantation, providing the incantation with power and authority. Subsequently, the speaker demands that where the speaker enters, the demons and deities do not enter (lines 5-6). Then, the speaker employs his/her covenant with the pantheon and cosmos (Heaven and Earth) as a means of legitimizing the incantation, perceiving the pantheon and cosmos to enforce the imperatives against the demons (lines 7-18). Three shorter, subsequent incantations are written atop the three images on the tablet. Unfortunately, little is known about the provenance of the incantation or who the scribe is. And though the authenticity of the Arslan Tash amulet has been questioned in the past, most scholars accept its authenticity now. The plaque is currently stored in the Museum of Aleppo, Syria.11

1. Image: Chelcent Fuad, Arslan Tash Amulet No. 1, n.d., (accessed ...), p. 46, Figure 1: Observe.

2. Ibid., p. 46, Figure 2: Reverse.

3. Drawing: Dennis Pardee, Les documents d'Arslan Tash : authentiques ou faux? Syria LXXV (1998), (accessed ...), p. 43, Fig. 1: AT1, recto.

4. Ibid., p. 43, Fig. 2: AT1, verso.

5. Transcription and translation: Charles G. Häberl, Arslan Tash Amulet No. 1 (AT1) (n.d.), (accessed ...), Transliteration and Translation.

6. Image: Pardee, p. 51, Fig. 10: AT2, recto.

7. Ibid., p. 51, Fig. 11: AT2, verso.

8. Drawing: Ibid., p. 49, Fig. 8: AT2, recto, verso.

9. Note: Häberl, p. 1.

10. Note: Jewish Virtual Library, Writing, (accessed ...), Inscriptions.

11. Note: William Brown, Arslan Tash Amulet, Ancient History Encylopedia, 26 February 2019, (accessed ...).

Sin zir Ibni Inscription [KAI 225, 1891] (7th Century BCE)

Sin zir Ibni Inscription | RMN / Franck Raux

Sin zir Ibni Inscription; RMN / Franck Raux. Source: Musée du Louvre.1

Sin zir Ibni Inscription | PROEL

Sin zir Ibni Inscription; PROEL. Source: PROEL.2


Mnamon: The stela from Nerab (a site south-east of Aleppo, Syria) was found in 1891. ... Monumental Aramaic script shows here the first signs of the influence of contemporary Aramaic cursive script.3

1. Image: RMN / Franck Raux, Funerary stele, Musée du Louvre, 2008, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL), Alfabeto Fenicio, (accessed ...), Estela funeraria de Nerab (siglo VII a. C.).

3. Note: Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean, Aramaic - 10th cent. B.C.-today: Examples of writing, (accessed ...), Official Aramaic II.

Si Gabbor Stele [KAI 226] (7th Century BCE)

Si Gabbor Stele | RMN / Franck Raux

Si Gabbor Stele; RMN / Franck Raux. Source: Musée du Louvre.1

Si Gabbor Stele | Mbzt

Si Gabbor Stele; Mbzt. Source: Wikimedia Commons.2

1. Image: RMN / Franck Raux, Stele of the priest Si Gabbor, Musée du Louvre, 2008, (accessed ...).

2. Mbzt, F1319 Louvre Stele Si gabbor AO3027 detail rwk, Wikimedia Commons, 15 March 2017, (accessed ...).

Sefire Stele I [KAI 222] (8th Century BCE)

Sefire Stele I | Jaroslav Mudroň

Sefire Stele I; Jaroslav Mudroň. Source: Mudroň (n.d.).1

Sefire Stele I; mostlydeadlanguages. Source: mostlydeadlanguages / Slightly Alive Translations.2

(Drawing of Sefire Stele I: Christopher A. Rollston, Writing and Literacy in the World of Ancient Israel: Epigraphic Evidence from the Iron Age, Archaeology and Biblical Studies 11 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature [SBL], 2010), [pp. 29-76] (accessed ...), p. 56.)

(Transliteration and translation of Stele I B lines 24–25: Amnon Altman [2008], p. 31.)


Millard (1982): The three stelae from Sefire near Aleppo, bearing the treaties Bar-Gayah king of KTK (a place of uncertain identity) made with Matiel of Arpad about 750 B.C., are the most extensive [Aramaic] inscriptions, about 175 lines preserved to some extent. ... Face B of Stele II reads: the treaty and favour which the gods have made in Arpad and among its people; and if Matiel will not obey, and if his sons will not obey, and if his nobles will not obey, and if his people will not obey.3

1. Image: Jaroslav Mudroň, The Old Aramaic inscriptions from Sefire (KAI 222-224): And their relevance for Biblical studies, n.d., (accessed ...), Photo-reproduction of the Stele Sefire I.

2. Images: mostlydeadlanguages / Slightly Alive Translations, Two Old Aramaic Curse Litanies (KAI 309 and KAI 222), 18 July 2017, (accessed ...).

3. Note: Alan R. Millard, In Praise of Ancient Scribes, The Biblical Archaeologist 45:2 (Summer 1982), (accessed ...), p. 38.

Sefire Stele II [KAI 223] (8th Century BCE)

Sefire Stele II | J. Starcky (1958)

Sefire Stele II; J. Starcky (1958). Source: Millard (1982).1

(Transliteration and translation of Stele II B lines 5–7: Amnon Altman [2008], p. 31.)

1. Image: Alan R. Millard, In Praise of Ancient Scribes, The Biblical Archaeologist 45:2 (Summer 1982), (accessed ...), p. 39, Facsimile of an Aramaic treaty text, Sefire stele II, face B, showing inserted line, ca. 750 B.C. Copied by J. Starcky, in A. Dupont-Sommer, Les inscriptions arameennes de Sefire, 1958.

Sefire Stele III [KAI 224] (8th Century BCE)

Sefire Stele III | Jan Dusek, Gaby Abousamra

Sefire Stele III; Jan Dusek, Gaby Abousamra. Source: Dusek, Abousamra (2016).1

1. Image: Jan Dusek and Gaby Abousamra, Aramaic Inscription on Stela Sefire III: New Photographs, Bulletin d'Archéologie et d'Architecture Libanaises [BAAL] 16 (2016), (accessed ...), p. 340, Fig. 1: The basalt stela Sefire III with Aramaic inscription.

Stele of Zakkur [KAI 202, 1903] (8th Century BCE, ca. 805-775)

Stele of Zakkur | Rama

Stele of Zakkur; Rama. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Stele of Zakkur | PROEL

Stele of Zakkur; PROEL. Source: PROEL.2

1. Image: Rama, Zakkur Stele 0154, Wikimedia Commons, 20 October 2007, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL), Alfabeto Fenicio, (accessed ...), Inscripción de Zakur (800 a. C.).

Melqart or Bir Hadad Stele [KAI 201, 1939] (9th Century BCE)

Melqart Stele | W.F. Albright

Melqart Stele; W.F. Albright. Source: Morstadt (2018).1

Melqart Stele | PROEL

Melqart Stele; PROEL. Source: PROEL.2

nṣbʾ . zy . šm brh⸢d⸣-
dd . br ʿtrhmk . [vacat]
mlk ʾrm lmrʾh lmlqr-
t . zy nzr lh wšmʿlql-
The stele [nṣbʾ] which [zy] Bir-hadad [brhddd]
the son [br] of ʿAttar-hamek [ʿtrhmk], [vacat]
king [mlk] of Aram [ʾrm], set up [šm] for his lord Melqart [lmrʾh lmlqrt]
to whom he made a vow [zy nzr lh] and who heard his voice [wšmʿlqlh]

Transliteration and translation source: Mykytiuk (2009): Wayne T. Pitard's reading.3

nṣbʾ . zy . šm br ⸢.⸣ h-
dd . brʿzr [.] ⸢d⸣mš . ⸢qyʾ⸣ b[r]
mlkʾrm ⸢.⸣ lmrʾh lmlqr-
t . zy nzr lh wšmʿlql-
The stele [nṣbʾ] which [zy] Bir-hadad [br hdd]
the son of ʿEzer (ʿIdr) [brʿzr], the Damascene [dmš qyʾ], son [br]
of the king of Aram [mlkʾrm], set up [šm] for his lord Milqart [lmrʾh lmlqrt]
to whom he made a vow [zy nzr lh], and who heard his voice [wšmʿlqlh]

Transliteration and translation source: Mykytiuk (2009): Frank Moore Cross' reading.4

nṣbʾ . zy . šm br ⸢.⸣ h-
dd . brʿzr . ⸢d⸣mšqy ⸢ʾ⸣br
mlkʾrm ⸢.⸣ lmrʾh lmlqr-
t . zy nzr ⸢.⸣ lh wšmʿ. lql-
The stele [nṣbʾ] which [zy] Bar-hadad [br hdd]
the son of ʿEzer [brʿzr] the Damascene [dmšqy], son of [ʾbr]
the king of Aram [mlkʾrm], erected [šm] to his lord Melqart [lmrʾh lmlqrt]
to whom he made a vow [zy nzr lh], and who heard his voice [wšmʿ lqlh]

Transliteration and translation source: Mykytiuk (2009): Gotthard G. G. Reinhold's reading.5


Jewish Virtual Library: One of the earliest Aramaic inscriptions was found near Aleppo. It is dedicated to Melqart, god of Tyre, and comes from the middle of the ninth century B.C.E.6

Mnamon: In this text Aramaic script is still very similar, if not identical, with Phoenician script (cf. "Phoenician-Aramaic script", Naveh).7

Reinhold (1986): The stele was erected by a king named Bir-Hadad in honor of the god Melqart who heard and answered his petition. The main point about this text which has not been clear is the identity of this Bir- Hadad. His name was incised at the end of the first line and the beginning of the second line and it can be read quite clearly. It is also the direct equivalent of Hebrew Ben Hadad. Problems arise at this point, however, because there are at least three and possibly four different Aramean kings mentioned in 1 and 2 Kings who bore this name. The question then is, Which one of these Ben Hadads erected this stele? ... The stone is badly damaged and the text is extremely difficult to read. As a result, a large number of different readings have been offered for the rest of this line, and thus the identifications made for the king mentioned here have varied considerably.8

1. Image: Bärbel Morstadt, Melqart, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft , January 2018, (accessed ...), p. 2, Abb. 1 Melqart-Stele (bei Aleppo, um 800 v. Chr.) [Aus: W.F. Albright, A Votive Stele Erected by Ben-Hadad I of Damascus to the God Melcarth, BASOR 87 (1942), 23-29, 24].

2. Drawing: Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL), Alfabeto Fenicio, (accessed ...), Estela de Melqart, dios de Tiro.

3. Transliteration and translation: Wayne T. Pitard, in Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, Corrections and Updates to Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200-539 B.C.E., MAARAV 16.1 (2009), (accessed ...), p. 70.

4. Transliteration and translation: Frank M. Cross, in Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p. 74.

5. Transliteration and translation: Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, in Lawrence J. Mykytiuk, p. 74.

6. Note: Jewish Virtual Library, Writing, (accessed ...), Inscriptions.

7. Note: Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean, Aramaic - 10th cent. B.C.-today: Examples of writing, (accessed ...), Old Aramaic.

8. Note: Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, The Bir-Hada Stele and the Biblical Kings of Aram, in Andrews University Seminary Studies 24:2 (Spring 1986), [pp. 115-126] (accessed ...), p. 115.

Tel Dan Stele [KAI 310, 1993-1994] (9th-8th Century BCE, ca. 870-750 [840])

Tel Dan Stele | Oren Rozen

Tel Dan Stele; Oren Rozen. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Tel Dan Inscription | William Schniedewind

Tel Dan Inscription; William Schniedewind. Source: Schniedewind (1996).2




A1. [… …] B1. and cut [… ]
A2. […] my father went up B2. [against him when] he fought at […]
A3. And my father lay down, he went to his [ancestors] viz. died of natural causes.. B3. And the king of I[s-]
A4. rael entered previously in my father’s land. B4. [And] Hadad made me king.
A5. And Hadad went in front of me, B5. [and] I departed from [the] seven […-]
A6. s of my kingdom, and I slew B6. [seve]nty kin[gs], who harnessed thou[sands of cha-]
A7. riots and thousands of horsemen or: horses.. B7. [I killed Jeho]ram son of [Ahab]
A8. king of Israel, and [I] killed B8. [Ahaz]iahu son of [Jehoram king]
A9. of the House [byt] of David [dwd]. And I set [their towns into ruins and turned]
A10. their land into [desolation … ]
A11. other [… and Jehu ru-]
A12. led over Is[rael … and I laid]
A13. siege upon […

Translation source: Bridge (2010).3


Wikipedia: The Tel Dan Stele is a fragmentary stele, discovered in 1993 in Tel-Dan.4

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem: This unique Aramaic inscription, part of a monumental stone slab commemorating the military victories of Hazael, king of Aram, contains the earliest reference to the Davidic dynasty outside the Bible.5

Bridge (2010): The Tel Dan inscription...dates to the last half of the ninth century BCE.... Only three fragments have been found: one in 1993, and two more in 1994. ... Before Fragments B were found, [A.] Biran and [J.] Naveh dated Fragment A to the early ninth century BCE on the basis of palaeography and find spot. The inscription had clearly been destroyed and used as fill under a pavement. Fragments B allowed them to narrow their dating of the inscription to sometime after 842 BCE on the basis of content alone: the names of the kings of Israel and Judah. The only time in the Bible in which the name of a king of Israel ends with rm and the name of a king of Judah (or, of the dynastic ‘house of David’; A9) ends in iahu and who were contemporaries[,] are Joram (also called Jehoram) of Israel and Ahaziah of Judah. The Bible records in 2 Kings 9–10 that they were killed by Jehu. At the same time the Aramaean king in Damascus was killed by Hazael. Both Jehu...and Hazael...were military captains who usurped their respective nation’s throne and founded new dynasties. ... The author of the stele claim[s] that he killed Joram and Ahaziah, not Jehu. Thus there is a problem...: two ancient sources [the Bible and the Tel Dan inscription] differ in who killed kings Joram and Ahaziah. This prompts the question as to who really killed the kings of Israel and Judah.6

Azevedo (1994): House of David inscription 9th BC.7

1. Image: Oren Rozen, JRSLM 300116 Tel Dan Stele 01, Wikimedia Commons, 30 January 2016, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: William Schniedewind, Tel Dan Stela: New Light on Aramaic and Jehu's Revolt, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) 302 (May 1996), (accessed ...), p. 77, Fig. 2: Computer-aided drawing of the Tel Dan Inscription (Fragments A, B1, B2).

3. Translation: Edward J. Bridge, Who killed the Kings? An Ancient Whodunnit: 2 Kings vs. the Tel-Dan Inscription, Ancient History: Resources for Teachers [AH:RfT] (Macquarie Ancient History Association [MAHA], Macquarie University) 40.2 (2010), (accessed ...).

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Tel Dan stele, (accessed ...).

5. Note: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, “House of David“ inscribed on a victory stele; IAA: 1996-125, 1993-3162, (accessed ...).

6. Note: Bridge.

7. Note: Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 109.

Tell Fekheriye/Fakhariya Bilingual Inscription / Statue of Hadad-yith'i [KAI 309, 1979] (9th century BCE, ca. 850)

Tell Fekheriye Statue | Tell Fekheriye Project

Tell Fekheriye Statue; Tell Fekheriye Project. Source: Tell Fekheriye Project.1

Tell Fekheriye Inscription; BAS Library. Source: Hess (1991).2

Tell Fekheriye Inscription | Benjamin Sass

Tell Fekheriye Inscription; Benjamin Sass. Source: Sass (2005).3


Wikipedia: The Tell el Fakhariya Bilingual Inscription is a bilingual inscription found on a Neo-Assyrian statue of Adad-it'i/Hadd-yith'i, the king of Guzana and Sikan, which was discovered in the late 1970s. The inscriptions are in the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian and Aramaic, the earliest Aramaic inscription.... The two inscriptions are on the skirt of the tunic, with the Akkadian inscription (38 lines) on the front and the Aramaic inscription (23 lines) on the back. ... It is generally dated to around 850 BC, though an 11th-century BC date has also been proposed.4

1. Image: Tell Fekheriye Project, Research History, (accessed ...), Fig. 4: Hadad-Yis´i statue, Museum Damaskus.

2. Image: Richard S. Hess, Eden: A well-watered place, Bible Review (Biblical Archaeology Society [BAS]) 7:6 (December 1991), and

3. Drawing: Benjamin Sass, The Alphabet at the Turn of the Millennium ca. 1150-850 BCE: The West Semitic Alphabet: The Antiquity of the Arabian, Greek and Phrygian Alphabets, Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 4 (Tel Aviv: Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology, 2005), (accessed ...), p. 42, Fig. 13: Fekheryeh Inscription.

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Tell Fekheriye bilingual inscription, (accessed ...).

Sam’al Inscriptions [Zincirli Höyük, Turkey]

Bar Rakkib III (Aramaic-Language)
Bar Rakkib II (Aramaic-Language)
Bar Rakkib I (Aramaic-Language)
Kuttamuwa/Katumuwa Inscription (Samalian-Language)
Panamuwa II (Samalian-Language)
Panamuwa I (Samalian-Language)
Kilamuwa/Kulamuwa Stele (Phoenician-Language)

Rachel Nabulsi (p. 316): In the area of Zincirli alone inscriptions in three distinct dialects have been uncovered (in addition to the Akkadian represented by the well known Esarhaddon Stele). These have been identified as “Samalian” (represented by the Hadad and Panamuwa inscriptions), Old Aramaic (the first Bar Rakib inscription), and Phoenician (the Kilamuwa inscription). While there are identifiable and systematic variations, the dialects found at Zincirli are so similar that one must hunt for the distinctions rather than remark upon the similarities.

Rachel Nabulsi (p. 314): The independent kingdom of Śam’al lasted only from approximately 900to 713BCE, at which time it was annexed by Assyria.

Rachel Nabulsi (p. 313): Reconstructed Royal Lineage of Śamʼal:
900–880 Gabbār
880–870 Bānihu
870–850 Hayyā(n)
850–840 Saʼīl
840–810 Kilamuwa
810–790 Qarli
790–750 Panamuwa I
750–745 Bar-Ṣūr
745–740 Usurper
740–733 Panamuwa II
733–713 Bar-Rakib

USC Dornsife: We know nothing else of any kings of Samal after Bar Rakkib. ... Eventually, Assyria, and then Babylon and Persia would bring an end to most of the independent, often culturally distinctive Iron Age city states.

Aramaic-Language Bar Rakkib III [KAI 218, 1891] (8th Century BCE)

Bar Rakkib III | A.D. Riddle /

Bar Rakkib III; A.D. Riddle / Source:

Bar Rakkib III | USC Dornsife
Bar Rakkib III | USC Dornsife

Bar Rakkib III; USC Dornsife. Source: USC Dornsife.2,3 (Closeups of inscription: left side and right side.)

My lord [mrʾy] is Baal Harran [bʿlḥrn].
I am [ʾnh] Bar Rakkib [brrkb], son of Panamu [pnm]

Translation source: USC Dornsife.4


USC Dornsife: Bar Rakkib III shows a relief of a king seated on the left, and a servant standing on the right. ... Like the previous inscriptions, the letters of the alphabet are carved in Luwian style bas relief.5

1. Image:, SAMAL, ZINCIRLI, BAR-RAKIB INSCRIPTION KAI 218, (accessed ...).

2. Image: USC Dornsife, Bar Rakkib and the end of Samal, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...), Bar Rakkib III.

3. Ibid.

4. Translation: Ibid.

5. Note: Ibid.

Aramaic-Language Bar Rakkib II [KAI 217, 1891] (8th Century BCE)

Bar Rakkib II; USC Dornsife. Source: USC Dornsife.1


USC Dornsife: Bar Rakkib II is an incomplete fragment of nine lines.... Symbols of deity appear at the top.2

1. Image: USC Dornsife, Bar Rakkib and the end of Samal, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...), Bar Rakkib II.

2. Note: Ibid.

Aramaic-Language Bar Rakkib I [KAI 216, 1891] (8th Century BCE, ca. 720)

Bar Rakkib I | University of Chicago

Bar Rakkib I Stele; University of Chicago. Source: University of Chicago.1

Bar Rakkib I | Felix von Luschan (1911)

Bar Rakkib I Inscription; Felix von Luschan (1911). Source: Millard (1982).2

I am [ʾnh] Bar-Rakib [brrkb],
son [br] of Panammuwa [pnmw], king [mlk] of Sam’al [šmʾl],
the servant [ʿbd] of Tiglath-Pileser [tgltplysr], lord [mrʾ]
of the four quarters of the earth [rbʿy ʾrqʾ]. On account of the loyalty [bṣdq] of my father [ʾby]
and on account of my loyalty [wbṣdqy hwšbny], my lord [mrʾy], Rakib-El [rkbʾl],
and my lord [wmrʾy], Tiglath-Pileser [tgltplysr],
caused me to reign upon the throne [ʿl krsʾ] of my father [ʾby]. And the house [wbyt] of my father [ʾby]
profited, more than all others. And I ran at the wheel [ʿml mn kl wrst bglgl]
of my lord [mrʾy], the king [mlk] of Assyria [ʾšwr],
in the midst [bmṣʿt] of powerful kings [mlkn rbrbn], lords [bʿly] of silver [ksp]
and lords [wbʿly] of gold [zhb]. And I took control [wʾḥzt]
of the house [byt] of my father [ʾby]. And I made it better than [whyṭbth mn]
the house [byt] of any powerful king [ḥd mlkn rbrbn].
And my brother kings were desirous
for all that is the good of my house. [whtnʾbw ʾḥy mlkyʾ lkl mh ṭbt byty]
But there was not a good house for my fathers [wby ṭb lyšh lʾbhy],
the kings [mlky] of Sam’al [šmʾl]. They had the house
of Kilamuwa [hʾ byt klmw lhm]; and it was a winter house for them [phʾ byt štwʾ lhm];
and it was a summer house (too) [whʾ byt kyṣʾ].
But I built this house [wʾnh bnyt bytʾ znh]!

Transliteration and translation source: Younger (1986).3


USC Dornsife: One of Bar Rakkib’s most intact records, a dolerite building inscription, was found in 1891. ... The building inscription of Bar Rakkib...consists of twenty lines, recounting the construction of the second palace between 732 and 727 B.C.E. The two inscriptions pictured here were also discovered in 1891. ... The inscriptions of Bar Rakkib are not written in the Samalian dialect but are some of the first ancient records to use imperial Aramaic. This dialect that by the end of the Neo-Assyrian period had become the lingua franca of the ancient Near East is also found in the Elephantine papyri and in the Aramaic portions of Ezra and Daniel.4

University of Chicago: Another inscription of Barrākib [addnl to Panamuwa II]...was carved on a stone monument found in the northwestern palace area on the upper mound of Zincirli. This inscription was written, not in Sam’alian, but in “official” Aramaic, a lingua franca of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. It is dated to ca. 720 BCE, not long before the royal dynasty of Sam’al was deposed and the kingdom annexed as a directly governed province of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.5

Mnamon: In the text the latter first protests his loyalty to the king of Assyria, Tiglathpileser III, claiming his legitimacy as son of the former king of Sam ̓al, Panammu (ll. 1-15). In the final lines the building of the new palace is celebrated (ll. 15-20). Monumental Aramaic script begins in this period a progressive development of the letter forms, leading to a marked difference between Aramaic script and its Phoenician prototypes.6

Millard (1982): Within the Old Testament are numerous foreign names, many of them alien to the western Semite. ... Where ancient writings of these names are available, detailed study shows the Hebrew writings represent the contemporary forms very closely. Thus the names of the Assyrian kings Tiglath-pileser and Sargon, as handed down through the Old Testament, turn out to be accurate reflections of the Assyrian dialect forms of these names. Tiglath-pileser is found in an almost identical spelling on the Aramaic Bar-Rakkab stele from Zinjirli, carved during his reign, or very shortly after.7

1. Image: University of Chicago, Inscriptions, Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, n.d., (accessed ...), Inscriptions of Barrākib (732 and ca. 720 BCE).

2. Drawing: Alan R. Millard, In Praise of Ancient Scribes, The Biblical Archaeologist 45:2 (Summer 1982), (accessed ...), p. 43, Facsimile of a stele of Bar-Rakkab from Zinjirli, giving Tiglath-pileser's name in Aramaic letters in line 3, ca 730 B.C. (F. van Luschan, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli 4, 1911, p. 379).

3. Transliteration and translation: K. Lawson Younger, Jr., Panammuwa and Bar-Rakib: Two Structural Analyses, Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society [JANES] 18:1 (1986), (accessed ...), pp. 100-101.

4. Note: USC Dornsife, Bar Rakkib and the end of Samal, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...).

5. Note: University of Chicago.

6. Note: Mnamon: Ancient writing systems in the Mediterranean, Aramaic - 10th cent. B.C.-today: Examples of writing, (accessed ...), Official Aramaic I.

7. Note: Millard, p. 42.

Samalian-Language Kuttamuwa/Katumuwa Inscription [2008] (8th Century BCE, ca. 735)

Kuttamuwa Stele | University of Chicago

Kuttamuwa Stele; University of Chicago. Source: Wilford (2008).1


University of Chicago: The inscribed mortuary stele of Katumuwa (KTMW), a royal official of Sam’al, was discovered in our excavations at Zincirli in July 2008. The inscription is written in the local Sam’alian dialect, which in this period had begun to show Aramaic influence. It is dated to ca. 735 BCE.2

Wikipedia: The inscription requested that his mourners commemorate his life and his afterlife with feasts "for my soul that is in this stele." It is one of the earliest references in a Near East culture to a soul as a separate entity from the body.3

Nabulsi (2015): Of particular interest is the reference on this stele to the continuation of the individual beyond physical death. One interpretation of this steleis that the soul, spirit, or essence of a person resides in the memorial stele itself and in this form partakes of a sacrificial feast along with a number of named gods and goddesses.4

University of Chicago: The vocalization of KTMW, the name written on the stele, is uncertain. “Katumuwa” has been proposed by K. Lawson Younger (2011) as the most likely reading, based on Luwian parallels. The archaeological context and iconography of his stele indicate that the Panamuwa whom Katumuwa served was Panamuwa II son of Barṣūr, who was installed as king of Sam’al by Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria in ca. 740 BCE, and not the earlier king Panamuwa I, son of Qarli.5

1. Image: John Noble Wilford, Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul, New York Times, 17 November 2008, (accessed ...), An inscription on a stone monument in Turkey from the eighth century B.C. indicated a belief that the body and soul were separate.

2. Note: University of Chicago, Inscriptions, Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, n.d., (accessed ...), Stele of Katumuwa, servant of Panamuwa II (ca. 735 BCE).

3. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Kuttamuwa stele, (accessed ...), Inscription.

4. Note: Rachel Virginia King Nabulsi, Burial Practices, Funerary Texts, and the Treatment of Death in Iron Age Israel and Aram, (PhD diss., The University of Georgia, 2015), (accessed ...), p. 327.

5. Note: University of Chicago.

Samalian-Language Panamuwa II aka Panamuna Inscription [KAI 215, 1888*] (8th Century BCE, ca. 732)

Panamuwa II | USC Dornsife
Panamuwa II | University of Chicago
Panamuwa II | University of Chicago
Panamuwa II | University of Chicago
Panamuwa II | University of Chicago
Panamuwa II | USC Dornsife

Panamuwa II Inscription; USC Dornsife. Source: USC Dornsife.1,2

Panamuwa II Statue; University of Chicago. Source: Oriental Institute Museum.3,4,5,6


University of Chicago: Barrākib, the last known king of Sam’al, erected a statue of his deceased father, Panamuwa II, on which was carved a memorial inscription.... The Panamuwa II statue inscription of Barrākib was written in the local Sam’alian dialect and can be dated to 732 BCE, soon after Panamuwa II died in battle at Damascus.7

Oriental Institute Museum: Lower half of colossal statue of king Panamuwa II of Sam'al (Zinjirli).... On the front is the hanging hem of a fringed/tasseled shawl/mantle, probably clasped in front with one hand, as in the Arslantepe statue and other contemporary depictions on orthostats from Zincirli itself. Katumuwa wears a similar mantle. Panamuwa is also wearing an ankle-length tunic with a tasseled hem. The curving line that comes down across the skirt seems from similar depictions on orthostats to be the edge of another garment worn over the tunic.8

USC Dornsife: Panamu II was the grandson of Panamu I, son of Qarli who succeeded Kilamuwa. About a century after the reign of his ancestor Kilamuwa, the dynasty had fallen to violent intrigues from within. Panamu II’s father Bar Sur was assassinated in a coup following the long prosperous reign of Panamu I. ... The inscription, now housed in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, was discovered during the German excavation at Zinjirli in 1888. It was not Panamu II himself, who died an untimely death in battle, that commissioned the inscription, but his son Bar Rakkib. ... Like the Hadad inscription, Panamu II was inscribed around the base of a pillar-shaped statue, perhaps of a god or king. ... The inscription’s 23 lines of text...are well preserved at the beginning but fade out gradually. Many of the lines become untranslatable at the far left and have been variously reconstructed. ... The details of the dynastic intrigue it reveals confirms that the violence and upheaval Panamu I feared came true. ... The assassination of his father Bar Sur prompted Panamu II to flee to Assyria on chariot and to “bring a gift” to their emperor. Compared to the Hadad inscription, there is a noticable absence of Panamu I’s concern for the gods. Where the king usually links his claim to the throne to his relation to the gods, Panamu II credits the Assyrian king with killing the usurper and restoring the dynasty. All the usual divine praise for legitimacy and then abundance is now attributed to the Panamu II’s loyalty to Assyria. Tiglath Pileser III expanded his kingdom northwards into Gurgum and possibly Quwe (both in what is now south central Turkey). Whereas Panamu I had boasted of favor from the gods, Panamu II is honored by “mighty kings,” or so his son boasts. ... The rest of the commemoration praises Panamu II’s loyalty as vassal to Tiglath Pileser III, even to personally serving Tiglath Pileser III in battle and being killed in action on campaign in 732. This was probably the same campaign that brought about the end of the northern kingdom of Israel which also fell in 732. Tiglath Pileser III and all the kings and camp wept for Panamu II. They brought his body back to Assyria and he was buried there. Finally, the Assyrian king established his son Bar Rakkib, the author of this inscription, on the throne of his father. ... It was Panamu II’s successor, Bar Rakkib, a distinctly Aramaic name, who comissioned this inscription for the memory of his father in the Sam'alian dialect. The language of Bar Rakkib’s own inscriptions however, is not Sam'alian. 9

1. Image: USC Dornsife, Panamuwa II Inscription, Assyrian Vassal, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...).

2. Ibid.

3. Images: Oriental Institute Museum (University of Chicago), Lower half of colossal statue of king Panamuwa II of Sam'al (Zinjirli), (accessed ...), D. 19164.

4. Ibid., D. 19160

5. Ibid., D. 19162

6. Ibid., D. 19163

7. Note: University of Chicago, Inscriptions, Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, n.d., (accessed ...), Inscriptions of Barrākib (732 and ca. 720 BCE).

8. Note: Oriental Institute Museum.

9. Note: USC Dornsife.

Samalian-Language Panamuwa I aka Hadad Statue [KAI 214, 1890*] (8th Century BCE, ca. 750)

Panamuwa I Statue | Haupt & Binder

Panamuwa I Statue; Haupt & Binder. Source: Deeb (2015).1

Panamuwa I Close-up | Arcalog

Panamuwa I Close-up; Arcalog. Source: Arcalog.2


Nabulsi (2015): We should also note a colossal statue of a king that had been erected in the early ninth century and deliberately buried in the aftermath of a great fire in about 670BCE.3

USC Dornsife: The inscription of Panamu I, the son of Qarli, did not turn up in the excavations at Zinjirli but had already been discovered in 1890 in a village north east of the site. It is inscribed on the base of a statue of the god Hadad. ... It is a long inscription of some 34 lines, but many of them are badly worn having been exposed to the elements. Unlike the Kilamuwa inscription, Panamu’s Hadad inscription is one of two written in the distinctive Sam'alian dialect. Sam'alian is mainly a mixture of Phoenican and Aramaic but also has some features not found elsewhere.4

University of Chicago: A mortuary inscription of Panamuwa I, king of Sam’al, was written in the local Sam’alian dialect and engraved on a colossal statue of the storm-god Hadad.... There was a temple of Hadad on the highest part of Gercin, which was easily visible from the royal citadel of Sam’al. Panamuwa’s inscription indicates that there was a royal necropolis or memorial place for the Iron Age kings of Sam’al in or near the temple of Hadad. It is dates to ca. 750 BCE.5

USC Dornsife: The inscription suggests Panamu I enjoyed a long and prosperous rule. His reign may have spanned four decades, nearly the first half of the 8th century. He does seem to have been in the lineage of Kilamuwa and Qarli, but legitimizes his rule largely on the basis of special favor the gods. ... He lays out the detailed procedure for communal stoning in cases in which his successor would seek to slaughter members of the royal family who might put forth rival claims to the throne. This preoccupation for bloodless succession and for harmony within the royal family after his death indicate that the upheavals that followed his reign had already begun toward the end of his life. It turns out that his worries were justified as his successor, Bar Sur, was killed in palace plot. After Bar Sur, the dynasty was interrupted by a usurper. Panamu II, the son of Bar Sur, does manage to restore the dynasty....6

1. Image: Kefah Ali Deeb, Weather God Hadad, Universes in Universe, 2015, (accessed ...), Weather God Hadad with Aramaic inscription of King Panamuwa I.

2. Image: Arcalog, Baal – Hadad, 2015, (accessed ...), Inscription on Colossal Statue of Hadad.

3. Note: Rachel Virginia King Nabulsi, Burial Practices, Funerary Texts, and the Treatment of Death in Iron Age Israel and Aram, (PhD diss., The University of Georgia, 2015), (accessed ...), p. 312.

4. Note: USC Dornsife, Panamu I and the Hadad Statue, West Semitic Research Project [WSRP], (accessed ...).

5. Note: University of Chicago, Inscriptions, Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, n.d., (accessed ...), Hadad Statue Inscription of Panamuwa I (ca. 750 BCE).

5. Note: USC Dornsife.

Phoenician-Language Kilamuwa/Kulamuwa Stele [KAI 24, 1888-1902] (9th Century BCE, ca. 830 BCE])

Kilamuwa Stele | Hahaha

Kilamuwa Stele; Hahaha. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Kilamuwa Inscription; Christopher A. Rollston. Source: Rollston (2008).2

𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤟 𐤊𐤋𐤌𐤅 𐤟 𐤁𐤓 𐤟 𐤇𐤉
𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤟 𐤂𐤁𐤓 𐤟 𐤏𐤋 𐤟 𐤉𐤀𐤃𐤉 𐤟 𐤅𐤁𐤋 𐤟 𐤐
𐤊𐤍 𐤁𐤍𐤄 𐤟 𐤅𐤁𐤋 𐤐𐤏𐤋 𐤟 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤟 𐤀𐤁 𐤟 𐤇𐤉𐤀 𐤟 𐤅𐤁𐤋 𐤟 𐤐𐤏𐤋 𐤟 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤟 𐤀𐤇
𐤌 𐤟 𐤀𐤋 𐤉𐤊𐤁𐤃 𐤟 𐤋𐤌𐤔𐤊𐤁𐤌 𐤟 𐤅𐤌𐤉 𐤟 𐤉𐤔𐤇𐤕 𐤟 𐤄𐤎𐤐𐤓 𐤆 𐤟 𐤉𐤔𐤇𐤕 𐤟 𐤓𐤀𐤔 𐤟 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤟 𐤑𐤌𐤃 𐤟 𐤀𐤔 𐤟 𐤋𐤂𐤁𐤓
𐤅𐤉𐤔𐤇𐤕 𐤟 𐤓𐤀𐤔 𐤟 𐤁𐤏𐤋𐤇𐤌𐤍 𐤟 𐤀𐤔 𐤟 𐤋𐤁𐤌𐤄 𐤟 𐤅𐤓𐤊𐤁𐤀𐤋 𐤟 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤟 𐤁𐤕 𐤟
ʾnk | klmw | br | ḥy
mlk | gbr | ʿl | yʾdy | wbl | p
kn bnh | wbl pʿl | wkn | ʾb | ḥyʾ | wbl | pʿl | wkn | ʾḥ
m | ʾl ykbd | lmškbm | wmy | yšḥt | hspr z | yšḥt | rʾš | bʿl | ṣmd | ʾš | lgbr
wyšḥt | rʾš | bʿlḥmn | ʾš | lbmh | wrkbʾl | bʿl | bt |
I am Kilamuwa, the son of Ḥayy[aʾ.]
Gabbar ruled over YʾDY, but he achieved n[othing.]
There was BNH, but he achieved nothing. Then, there was my father, Ḥayyaʾ, but he achieved nothing. Then, there was brother
ŠʾL, but he achieved nothing. But I, Kilamuwa, son of TML, what I achieved,
not honor the mškbm. And whoever strikes out this inscription, may Baʿal-Ṣemed, (the god) of Gabbar, strike his head;
and may Baʿal-Ḥammon, (the god) of BMH, and Rakib-ʾEl, the lord of the house, strike his head.

Transliteration and translation source: Parker (2013, 2018), pp. 71-79.3


Wikipedia: The Kilamuwa Stele was discovered in Sam'al during the 1888-1902 German Oriental Society expeditions led by Felix von Luschan and Robert Koldewey. ... The stele is a 16-line text in the Phoenician language and written in an Old Aramaic form of the Phoenician alphabet.4

University of Chicago: An inscription by Kulamuwa, king of Sam’al, which is dated to ca. 830 BCE. Kulamuwa’s father Ḥayyā(nu) [was defeated by] Shalmaneser III, king of 858 BCE. Kulamuwa’s inscription was written in Phoenician and carved on a stone orthostat.... [Phoenician] was not the spoken language of the kingdom of Sam’al but it was widely used in the Iron Age II as a lingua franca because, beginning in the tenth century BCE, Phoenician travelers and merchants had disseminated their new alphabetic method of writing, ancestral to all alphabets in use today, far and wide among the Iron Age kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean. After Kulamuwa, the later royal inscriptions we possess from the kingdom of Sam’al were written in the local Sam’alian dialect using a Phoenician-derived alphabetic script, or, in the case of the latest known inscription by Barrākib (ca. 720 BCE), were written in the “official” dialect of Aramaic used as a lingua franca in the Neo-Assyrian Empire beginning in the late eighth century BCE.5

1. Image: Hahaha, Pergamonmuseum - Vorderasiatisches Museum 046, Wikimedia Commons, 11 April 2006, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Christopher A. Rollston, The Dating of the Early Royal Byblian Phoenician Inscriptions: A Response to Benjamin Sass, Maarav 15.1 (2008), (accessed ...), p. 80., Fig.7: Kilamuwa Inscription.

3. Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), pp. ??.

4. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Kilamuwa Stela, (accessed ...).

5. Note: University of Chicago, Inscriptions, Chicago-Tübingen Expedition to Zincirli, n.d., (accessed ...), Phoenician Inscription of Kulamuwa (ca. 830 BCE).

Cilicia Inscriptions

Cebelireis Dağı Inscription (Phoenician)
Incirli Trilingual (Phoenician/Luwian Hieroglyphics/Assyrian Cuneiform)
Karatepe Bilingual (Phoenician/Luwian Hieroglyphics)
Çineköy Bilingual (Phoenician/Luwian Hieroglyphics)
Hasanbeyli Inscription (Phoenician)

Aslı Özyar [????]: The time is around 700j B.C., the place a provincial eastern Mediterranean locale, namely, the Cilician hinterland. The players are regional landlords who came to power after the breakdown of the Bronze Age world order. ... In the world of contested and fluid boundaries of the early first millennium B.C., Anatolian and North Syrian city-states competed for territory by erecting memorials before, one by one, they eventually succumbed to the expanding Assyrian empire. ... One of the longest public inscriptions of its time, displayed in a stronghold located in the periphery of a principality...the site is known as Karatepe- Aslantaş. ... According to the inscription in the citadel...this fortress is one of several, defining the northern border of the city-state Adanawa, the center of which must be the mound of Tepebağ in modern-day Adana on the Seyhan (ancient Saros) River. Further upstream in the Taurus Mountains lies the principality of Gurgum, its center at modern Maraş. Beyond the Amanus range, which separates the Cilician plain from North Syria, stretches the city-state of Sam’al, with its center at the mound of Zincirli. :
So far no Phoenician trading post or settlement has been identified along the coastal Cilician plain, but their commercial interest in cedar, silver, and iron must have brought the Phoenicians into contact with the inhabitants of the plain in order to access its forested and metalliferous hinterland, known to Mesopotamian merchants as the Silver Mountains. Discoveries of Phoenician pottery in coastal or inland Cilicia have been few and far between: existing examples are small jugs, traded for their valuable liquid content, as found among the imported ceramics in Tarsus- Gözlükule. Phoenician cultural presence in coastal Cilicia and its connected hinterland, on the other hand, is quite visible, primarily in the output of the possibly itinerant Phoenician scribes who must have been employed by Cilician patrons to inscribe their commemorative monuments with texts composed in the Phoenician language and alphabetic script. What is particular to Cilicia and its Luwian-speaking environment, including northern neighbors beyond the Taurus range, is the production of bilingual, in one instance even trilingual, texts for public consumption, as noted by Machteld Mellink. In other words, competing landlords and potentates decided to announce their deeds and claims not only in Hieroglyphic Luwian, their vernacular and the traditional and imperial Hittite practice preferred for monumental writing but also in Phoenician, a foreign language and script on the rise. Given Assyrian interest in and pressure on the region, it is perplexing that Cilicians did not employ Neo-Assyrian and cuneiform, so far attested only in the single instance of a trilingual inscription. One may perhaps infer a subtle form of resistance to Assyrian power in the preference for Phoenician. :
Recent studies of these texts have led to new proposals concerning the genealogy of the Adanawa dynasty. Lipiński differentiated in his 2004 publication between the personal names Awarikus and Warikas, interpreted by others to be versions of the same name. Most recently Zsolt Simon took this proposal a step further, suggesting that this dynasty must span over four generations, with grand-sons named after grandfathers, a common feature in Anatolian dynastic succession. Thus the Awarikus of Hasanbeyli would be the father of Warikas the author of the Çineköy and İncirli inscriptions, who in turn could be the father of Awarikus of Karatepe and perhaps the grandfather of his name sake Warikas of Cebel- i Reis Dağı. :
Among the reliefs from the North Gate is the aftermath of a naval battle, depicting a ship with rolled-up sails, dead enemies floating in the sea, and the captain seated in the stern raising a cup. This ship may allude to relations with the Greek world. Greeks must have arrived in Cilicia on such ships, because in contrast to the round-hulled merchant ships of the Phoenicians, this type of long, shallow galley fitted with a ram is unmistakably of Aegean origin. But why is this scene included in the gate to a citadel in the foothills of the Taurus? It is singular among Neo- Hittite monumental art and has no predecessors in the Hittite world. The patron of the citadel must surely have identi-fied with the victors on this ship, perhaps as his ancestors. ... Aegean connections were long suspected, as Azatiwatas, the patron of the citadel declared his overlord, the ruler of Adana, to be a descendant of the house of Mopsos. ... Such contacts were further cemented by the above-mentioned bilingual inscription from Çineköy, where the name of the plain is rendered as ’dn (Adana) in Phoenician, but as Hiyawa in Hieroglyphic Luwian, recalling Ahhiyawa, as Hittites referred to the land of their western, Aegean, perhaps Achaean, rivals. Recai Tekoğlu and André Lemaire further explain that if the ruler of Adana called the plain in his vernacular Hiyawa this would account for the Assyrian name for the Cilician plain, recorded as Que/Khuwe. :
Most recently, Ilya Yakubovich contributed to this discussion by addressing the presence of people of Greek descent in Que/Hiyawa. He elaborates the argument that the Phoenician version of the Cilician bilingual inscriptions was the primary text, translated into Hieroglyphic Luwian, and that the Phoenician language and script were employed on purpose by a ruling elite of Aegean origin to emphasize their distinction from Luwian-speaking dynasties. He goes on to propose that this could have resulted in a cultural milieu fostering the development of the Greek alphabet from the Phoenician.

Ilya Yakubovich [2015]: (p.35) The principality of Que, known under such a name from Neo-Assyrian sources and situated on the Cilician plain, was one of the so-called Neo-Hittite states. The term ‘Neo-Hittite’ is commonly applied to a number of polities which arose in the territory of southwestern Anatolia and northern Syria after the collapse of the empireof Hattusa in the early 12th century BC. Eventually most of them were absorbed into the Assyrian Empire by the end of the eighth century BC (with instances of sporadic re-emergences in the seventh century). ... This designation is not ethnically based, but rather reflects the lingering geographic association of the Neo-Hittite polities with the empire of Hattusa.
(p.35) Judging by local inscriptions, the actual ethnic identity of the Neo-Hittite elites was rather heterogeneous. The ruling dynasties of Carchemish and Melid, for example, traced back their genealogies to the rulers of Hattusa and composed their hieroglyphic inscriptions in the Luwian language (Bryce 2012: 83–84, 98–99). These states can be regarded as the true cultural heirs to the empire of Hattusa, where the Luwian language came first to be associated with hieroglyphic inscriptions (Yakubovich 2010a: 297– 99). A very different sociolinguistic situation is attested in Sam’al, where the official inscriptions were composed inthree Semitic languages: Phoenician, Ya’udic (Sam’alian) and standard Old Aramaic (Tropper 1993: 5).
(p.36) ... In comparison with the above cases, the sociolinguistic situation in Que is considerably harder to interpret. Apart from a handful of seals, whose authenticity and provenance cannot always be reliably established, it can be studied on the basis of the monumental inscriptions (or their groups), namely İNCİRLİ, KARATEPE, ÇİNEKÖY, HASSAN-BEYLİ and CEBELİREİS DAĞI. The first four of these monuments are commonly dated to the eighth century BC, while CEBELİREİS DAĞI probably originated a century later, at a point when one is no longer sure about the existence of the principality of Que. All five of them have Phoenician versions, İNCİRLİ, KARATEPEand ÇİNEKÖY have Luwian versions and the İNCİRLİ inscription also features an Akkadian version. ... The name of Azatiwada, a de-facto ruler of Que and commissioner of the great KARATEPE inscription (KARATEPE 1), is also clearly Luwian, and so are the names of scribes mentioned in the related Luwian inscription KARATEPE 4. By contrast, no Luwian etymologies impose themselves for the royal names Awarku (KARATEPE, HASSAN-BEYLİ) and Waraika (İNCİRLİ, ÇİNEKÖY, CEBELİREİS DAĞI). A large group of scholars prefers to regard these two names as variant spellings of the same personal name *Awarika (cf.Gander 2012: 292–94), but even such a solution does not yield a convincing Luwian etymology of the hybrid name.
(p.36) It is a matter of general agreement that the indigenous population of Cilicia spoke a form of Luwian before the collapse of the empire of Hattusa (Bryce 2012: 153–54;cf. Yakubovich 2010a: 272–85). As mentioned above, the Luwian language continued to be in use in those Neo-Hittite principalities that maintained their local elites and harkened back to the old imperial traditions. If one assumes that Que represented one such state, it is reasonable to expect that Luwian was its principal official language. The written use of Phoenician could then beexplained as an attempt to accommodate the internationallingua franca of the time, the simpler and more accessibleform of writing. This can be called the indigenist hypoth-esis. By contrast, if the Luwian-speaking groups lost their grip of Cilicia in the Neo-Hittite period, then one possible interpretation of the written use of Phoenician would be the assertion of a separate cultural identity by the newelites, in contrast to the rulers of the neighbouring states. The written use of Luwian alongside Phoenician could then be taken as a concession to the native population groups of Que. The assumption that outsiders took controlof the Cilician plain after the collapse of the empire of Hattusa can be called the migrationist hypothesis.
(p.36) ... According to the current state of the debate, the ethnic group commonly seen as supplying the new elites to the principality of Que is not that of the Phoenicians but of the Greeks. Although no local inscriptions in the Greek language have been found for the relevant place and period, a number of new discoveries and methodological advances made since the year 2000 have strengthened the case for Greek presence in Early Iron Age Cilicia. Bycontrast, there seem to be no arguments for significant Phoenician presence in Cilicia in the same period, apart from trade connections (cf. Lipiński 2004: 138–43).

Cebelireis Dağı Inscription [1980] (7th Century BCE)

Cebelireis Dağı Inscription | Tayfun Bilgin

Cebelireis Dağı Inscription; Tayfun Bilgin / Source: Hittite Monuments.1


Hittite Monuments: The stone block appears the be a part of a prism shaped monument. ... On the preserved section of the block there are a total of 12 lines of Phoenician inscription, 9 on the two sides and 3 on the top side. It appears to be a judicial text that describes the exchange and settlement of ownership of certain lands between several individuals. Text also mentions the intervention of a King Warika (WRYK) in the dispute. A king named Warika (albeit with the Phoenician spelling WRK) is also known from Çineköy and İncirli inscriptions, although paleographically Cebelireis inscription dates to the second half of 7th century, thus about a century after the Çineköy and İncirli.2

1. Image: Hittite Monuments, Cebelireis Dağı Inscription, (accessed ...).

2. Note: Ibid.

Incirli Trilingual aka Incirli Stele [1993] (8th-7th Century BCE, 800-600)

Incirli Stele, Front | Figen Anıl

Incirli Stele, Front; Figen Anıl. Source: Hittite Monuments.1

Incirli Stele, Back; Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman

Incirli Stele, Back; Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman. Source: Kaufman (2007).2

(Transliteration and translation of the front [15 lines]: reddit. Transliteration and translation of all sides [front, 15 lines; left, 27 lines; back, 26 lines; and right, 8 lines]: Steve Kaufman [2007], pp. 11-17.)


Hittite Monuments: The stele...was originally inscribed in three languages, namely hieroglyphic Luwian, Assyrian, and Phoenician, and much later in the Byzantine times it was reused as a border marker by incising an inscription in Greek. Original inscriptions have been badly eroded. Luwian inscription is located on the front face to the right of the relief figure and the two-line Assyrian inscription in cuneiform script is written below the Luwian and on the right side of the stele. However, both of these remain in illegible condition. Below those, a Phoenician inscription was written on all four sides of the stele which has been read with the aid of advanced visual techniques.3

Parker (2013, 2018): The Incirli stele was discovered in 1993, by E[lizabeth] Carter of the University of California, Los Angeles, during a routine regional survey of the Kharamanmarash (ancient Marash) region of Turkey. It was found exposed in a private garden. The stele bears a trilingual inscription written in Luwian hieroglyphics, Neo-Assyrian cuneiform, and Phoenician alphabetic script. It is dated to the second half of the eighth century BCE, based on its internal content. The inscription mentions ’Awarak of Adana, who has been identified with either Urikki of Que, who paid tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III (744- 727 BCE) at the end of the eighth century, or with another ruler of Adana who reigned just before Tiglath-Pileser came to the throne.4

Kaufman (2007): The inscription is extremely weathered and, for the most part, next to impossible to read with the naked eye. Nonetheless, several things were clear from the beginning: a) there had been text on all four sides of this stela; b) the text on the top to the right of the image, for two lines immediately below the image, and on the top half of the right-hand side was written with dividing lines, as was the regular practice with Hiero-glyphic Luwian and Assyrian inscriptions on stone from this period. The traces of signs make it quite clear that the top-right portion consisted of hieroglyphics, the two-line and right-side portions of Neo-Assyrian cuneiform; c) the remaining text was in Phoenician script and written without dividing lines, as was the practice in most, but not all, monumental Phoenician texts from these times; d) the back top half of the stone had also been reused in late Antiquity as a boundary-stone (“OPION”) inscription in carelessly scrawled (can inscribed letters bedeemed to be scrawled?), enormous majuscule Greek.5

1. Image: Hittite Monuments, İncirli Stele, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Steve Kaufman, The Phoenician Inscription of the Incirli Trilingual: A Tentative Reconstruction and Translation, Maarav 14.2 (2007), (accessed ...), p. 115, Plate XI: Incirli Inscription, Back (Photograph by Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman, West Semitic Research. Courtesy Archaeological Museum of Gaziantep, Turkey).

3. Note: Hittite Monuments.

4. Heather Dana Davis Parker, The Levant Comes of Age: The Ninth Century BCE Through Script Traditions (PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, October 2013, Revised 31 May 2018), (accessed ...), p. 47, n. 150.

5. Note: Kaufman.

Karatepe Bilingual aka Karatepe-Aslantaş Inscriptions aka Azatiwada Inscription [KAI 26, 1946] (8th Century BCE)

Phu/A I-III and Base

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A I-III | Klaus-Peter Simon

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A I-III; Klaus-Peter Simon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A Base

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A Base. Source: Tahberer (2019).2

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A I-III | Klaus-Peter Simon

Luwian Hieroglyphics; Klaus-Peter Simon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.?

Phu/A IV Portal Lion

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A IV. Source: Tahberer (2019).3


𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤆𐤕𐤅𐤃 𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤏𐤁𐤃[...]
𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤀𐤔 𐤀𐤃𐤓 𐤀𐤅𐤓𐤊 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤃𐤍𐤍[...]𐤉𐤌
𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤍 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤋𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤋𐤀𐤁 𐤅𐤋𐤀𐤌 𐤉𐤇𐤅 𐤀𐤟𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤉𐤕
𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤉𐤓𐤇𐤁 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤓𐤑 𐤏𐤌𐤒 𐤀𐤃𐤍𐤟𐤋𐤌𐤌𐤑𐤀 𐤔
𐤌𐤔 𐤅𐤏𐤃 𐤌𐤁𐤀𐤉 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤁𐤉𐤌𐤕𐤉 𐤊𐤋[...]𐤟𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤋𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉
𐤌 𐤅𐤔𐤁𐤏 𐤅𐤌𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤀 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤏𐤒𐤓𐤕[...]𐤟𐤐𐤏𐤓 𐤅𐤐𐤏
𐤋 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤎𐤎 𐤏𐤋 𐤎𐤎 𐤌𐤂𐤍 𐤏𐤋 𐤌𐤂𐤍 𐤅𐤌𐤇𐤍𐤕[...]𐤟𐤏𐤋
𐤌𐤇𐤍𐤕 𐤁𐤏𐤁𐤓 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤅𐤀𐤋𐤌 𐤅𐤔𐤁𐤓𐤕 𐤌𐤋𐤑𐤌𐤟
𐤁𐤒𐤑𐤕 𐤂𐤁𐤋𐤉 𐤁𐤌𐤑’ 𐤔𐤌𐤔 𐤅𐤃𐤟𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌

𐤉𐤔𐤁𐤕 𐤔𐤌 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤁𐤉𐤌𐤕𐤉 𐤁𐤊𐤋
𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤊𐤓𐤍𐤕𐤓𐤉𐤔 𐤅𐤉𐤋𐤊 𐤆𐤁𐤇 𐤋𐤊𐤋

𐤄𐤌𐤎𐤊𐤕 𐤆𐤁𐤇 𐤉𐤌𐤌 𐤀𐤋𐤐 𐤅𐤁
𐤄𐤔𐤏𐤓 𐤆 𐤅𐤌𐤇 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤔𐤌𐤌 𐤅𐤀𐤋 𐤒𐤍 𐤀𐤓𐤑

𐤅𐤔𐤌𐤔 𐤏𐤟
𐤋𐤌 𐤅𐤊𐤋 𐤃𐤓 𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤋𐤌𐤟
𐤀𐤉𐤕 𐤄𐤌𐤌𐤋𐤊𐤕 𐤄𐤟
𐤀 𐤅𐤀𐤉𐤕 𐤄𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤄𐤀 𐤅𐤟

𐤀𐤃𐤌 𐤄𐤀 𐤀 𐤔 𐤀𐤃𐤌 𐤔𐤌 𐤀𐤐𐤎
𐤔𐤌 𐤀𐤆𐤕𐤅𐤃 𐤉𐤊𐤍 𐤋𐤏𐤋𐤌 𐤊𐤌 𐤔𐤌
𐤔𐤌𐤔 𐤅𐤉𐤓𐤇
Phu/A I
[Segment 1]ʾnk ʾztwd hbrk bʿl ʿbd[...]
bʿl ʾš ʾdr ʾwrk mlk dnn[...]ym
[Segment 2]pʿln bʿl ldnnym lʾb wlʾm yḥw ʾ|nk ʾyt
dnnym yrḥb ʾnk ʾrṣ ʿmq ʾdn|lmmṣʾ š
mš wʿd mbʾy[Segment 3]wkn bymty kl[...]|nʿm ldnny
m wšbʿ wmnʿm wmlʾ ʾnk ʿqrt[...]|pʿr wpʿ
l ʾnk ss ʿl ss mgn ʿl mgn wmḥnt[...]|ʿl
mḥnt bʿbr bʿl wʾlm[Segment 4]wšbrt mlṣm|
...[Segment 7]...
bqṣt gbly bmṣ’ šmš[Segment 8]wd|nnym
Phu/A II
yšbt šm wkn bymty bkl
...[Segment 10]...
bʿl krntryš[Segment 11]wylk zbḥ lkl
hmskt zbḥ ymm ʾlp wb
...[Segment 13]...
hšʿr z wmḥ bʿl šmm wʾl qn ʾrṣ
wšmš ʿ|
lm wkl dr bn ʾlm|
ʾyt hmmlkt h|
ʾ wʾyt hmlk hʾ w|
Phu/A IV Portal Lion
ʾdm hʾ ʾ š ʾdm šm[Segment 14]ʾps
šm ʾztwd ykn lʿlm km šm
šmš wyrḥ
S1. I am Azatiwada, steward of Ba{al, servant of Ba{al, a mighty man of Awariku, king of the Danunians.
S2. Ba‘al made me a father and a mother to the Danunians. I caused theDanunians to live. I enlarged the land of the valley of Adana fromthe rising of the sun to its setting.
S3. Now there was in my days every pleasure for the Danunians, and abundance and well-being. I filled the barren with fertility. I acquired horse upon horse, shield upon shield, and army upon army, by the grace of Ba‘al and the gods.
S7. Now I, Azatiwada, subdued them. I brought them down. I settled them at the edge of my border in the East.
S8. And the Danunians I settled there. And so it was in my days, in all the borders of the valley of Adana, from the rising of the sun to its setting, in places that were formerly feared, where a man would fear to walk the road, that in my very days a woman could walk alone with spindles, by the grace of Ba‘al and the gods.
S10. NowIbuiltthistown.IestablisheditsnameAzatiwadaya.Icaused Ba‘al krntrys to dwell among it.
S11. So, let a sacrifice be brought to all the molten images:22 a yearly sacrifice of an ox; at the time of ploughing: a sheep; and at harvest time: a sheep. May Ba‘al krntrys bless Azatiwada with life and well being, and mighty strength over every king that he, Ba‘al krntrys and all the gods of the city, might give Azatiwada a length of days and a multitude of years, and authority and mighty strength over every king. May this city be a mistress of abundance and wine.
S14. Only the name of Azatiwada shall be forever like the name of thesun and the moon.

Transliteration and translation source: Schade (2005).4

Pho/B I Portal Lion

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/B I. Source: Tahberer (2019).5


[𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤆𐤕𐤅𐤃 𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤏𐤁𐤃 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤀𐤔 𐤀𐤃𐤓 𐤀𐤅𐤓𐤊 𐤌𐤊𐤋 𐤃𐤍]
[𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤐𐤏𐤋𐤍 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤋𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤋]𐤀𐤁 𐤅𐤋𐤀𐤌 𐤉𐤇𐤅 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤉𐤕 𐤃𐤍𐤍[𐤉𐤌 𐤉𐤓𐤇𐤁 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤓𐤑 𐤏]𐤌𐤒 𐤀[𐤃𐤍]
𐤋𐤌𐤌𐤑𐤀 𐤔𐤌[𐤔 𐤅𐤏𐤃 𐤌𐤁]𐤉 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤁𐤉𐤌𐤕[𐤉 𐤊𐤋] 𐤍𐤏𐤌 [𐤋𐤃]𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤅𐤔𐤁[𐤏] 𐤅[𐤌𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤅𐤌𐤋]𐤀
𐤏𐤒𐤓𐤕 𐤐𐤏𐤓 [𐤅𐤐𐤏𐤋 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤎𐤎 𐤏𐤋] 𐤎𐤎 𐤅𐤌[𐤂𐤍 𐤏𐤋 𐤌]𐤂𐤍 𐤅𐤌𐤇𐤍𐤕 𐤏𐤋 𐤌𐤇𐤍[𐤕] 𐤁𐤏𐤁[𐤓 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤅]𐤀𐤋[𐤌]
𐤅𐤔𐤁𐤓𐤕 𐤌𐤋[𐤑𐤌 𐤅𐤕𐤓𐤒 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤊𐤋 𐤄𐤓𐤏 𐤀𐤔 𐤊𐤍 𐤁𐤀]𐤓𐤑 𐤅𐤉𐤈𐤍 𐤀𐤍𐤕 𐤁𐤕 𐤀𐤃[𐤍𐤉 𐤁𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤅𐤐]
𐤏𐤋 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤋[𐤔𐤓𐤔 𐤀𐤃𐤍𐤉 𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤅𐤉𐤔𐤁 𐤀𐤍𐤊] 𐤏𐤋 𐤊𐤎𐤀 𐤀𐤁𐤉 𐤅𐤔𐤕 𐤀[𐤍𐤊 𐤔𐤋𐤌 𐤀𐤕]
𐤊𐤋 𐤌[𐤋𐤊 𐤅𐤀𐤐 𐤁𐤀𐤁𐤕 𐤐𐤏𐤋]𐤍 𐤊[𐤋 𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤁]𐤑[𐤃]𐤒𐤉 𐤅𐤁𐤇𐤊𐤌𐤕𐤉 𐤅[𐤁𐤍𐤏𐤌 𐤋𐤁𐤉]
Pho/B I Portal Lion
[ʾnk ʾztwd hbrk bʿl ʿbd bʿl ʾš ʾdr ʾwrk mkl dn]
[nym pʿln bʿl ldnnym l]ʾb wlʾm yḥw ʾnk ʾyt dnn[ym yrḥb ʾnk ʾrṣ ʿ]mq ʾ[dn]
lmmṣʾ šm[š wʿd mb]y wkn bymt[y kl] nʿm [ld]nnym wšb[ʿ] w[mnʿm wml]ʾ
ʿqrt pʿr [wpʿl ʾnk ss ʿl] ss wm[gn ʿl m]gn wmḥnt ʿl mḥn[t] bʿb[r bʿl w]ʾl[m]
wšbrt ml[ṣm wtrq ʾnk kl hrʿ ʾš kn bʾ]rṣ wyṭn ʾnt bt ʾd[ny bnʿm wp]
ʿl ʾnk l[šrš ʾdny nʿm wyšb ʾnk] ʿl ksʾ ʾby wšt ʾ[nk šlm ʾt]
kl m[lk wʾp bʾbt pʿl]n k[l mlk b]ṣ[d]qy wbḥkmty w[bnʿm lby]

[I am Azatiwada, the abarakku of Baʿal, servant of Baʿal, whom Awarikku, king of the Dan-]
[unians, made powerful. Baʿal made me] a father and a mother [to the Danunians]. I revived the Danun[ians. I extended the land of the] plain of A[dana]
from the rising of the sun [to] its setting. And in [my] days [the Da]nunians had everyt[hing ʿthat wasʾ good,] and sat[iation, and welfare. And] I fil[led]
the granaries of Pahar. [And I added horse upon] horse, and shie[ld upon shi]eld, and army upon army, [by the grace of Baʿal and] the god.
And I shattered dissen[ters, and I extirpated every evil which was in the] land. And I founded the house of [my] lor[d on pleasure. And] I
acted [kindly] towards [the offspring of my lord, and I let him sit] on his father's throne. And [I] established [peace with]
every ki[ng. And indeed ev]ery [king treated me as a father because] of my righteousness, and because of my wisdom, and [because of my goodness of heart.]

Transliteration and translation source: Çambel (1999).6


Karatepe Bilingual Phu/B I | Iza

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/B I; Iza. Source: Iza (2017).7

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/A I-III | Klaus-Peter Simon

Karatepe Bilingual Phu/B I; Klaus-Peter Simon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.8


Iza (2017): Right next to the gate, a statue of the bearded Storm God, known as Baal or Tarhunzas, stands on a plinth with a double bull. The famous Karatepe Bilingual, an inscription in the Phoenician alphabet and Hieroglyphic Luwian with the same text, is also situated there.9

Wikipedia: The Karatepe bilingual (8th century BC), also known as the Azatiwada inscription, is a bilingual inscription on stone slabs consisting of Phoenician and Luwian text each, which enabled the decryption of the Anatolian hieroglyphs.10

UNESCO: The fortification walls of the fortress are pierced by two major gates, known as the North and the South Gate.... A series of stone orthostats lining the lowest part of the mud-brick wall...leading in and out of the castle...incorporate a program of relief sculpture and a bilingual narrative inscription. In the open precinct beyond the South Gate stood the colossal statue of the Storm-God on a double bull-socle. Karatepe Bilingual, an inscription in the Phoenician alphabet and Hieroglyphic Luwian with the same text, is also carved on the four-sided statue.11

Schmitz (2008): Among the many significant discoveries at Karatepe was a long Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription accompanying a parallel Phoenician text. The Phoenician inscription is the longest example known of a text in that language. The Phoenician text occurs in three exemplars: on the orthostats at the North Gate (Phu/A), on the portal lion sculpture and bases at the SouthGate (Pho/B), and on the skirts and support of a monumental deity statue (PhSt/C). The narrator of the text is Azatiwada (Phoen. ‘ztwd), a client of the Danunian king Awariku (KAI 26 I 2). The three exemplars witness essentially the same text, although there is some minor variation among them.12

Schmitz (2009): The Phoenician inscription, still the longest known, is exceptional, not only with respect to its physical characteristics as a basis for paleographical study, but also linguistically, as the largest extant sample of Phoenician text. ... Six times the Phoenician text mentions a deity called B‘L KRNTRYŠ. ... An instructive variant reading occurs in the version on the statue (C I 1-III 14b-16), indicating that B‘L KRNTRYŠ is the deity represented by the statue.13

Schmitz (2009): The Cilician population was primarily Luwian-speaking...none of the Phoenician inscriptions of Anatolia was written by a native speaker of the language.14

Azevedo (1994): 725 BC.15

1. Image: Klaus-Peter Simon, KaratepeNord7, Wikimedia Commons, 11 September 2011, (accessed ...).

2. Image: Bekircan Tahberer, Neo-Hittie Site at Karatepe Aslantaş, December 2019, (accessed ...), North Gate - East Wall.

3. Ibid.

?. Image: Klaus-Peter Simon, KaratepeSüd1, Wikimedia Commons, 11 September 2011,üd1.jpg (accessed ...).

4. Transliteration and translation: Aaron Schade, A Text Linguistic Approach to the Syntax and Style of the Phoenician Inscription of Azatiwada, (accessed ...), pp. 38-56.

5. Image: Tahberer, South Gate - West Wall.

6. Transliteration and translation: Halet Çambel, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Volume II Karatepe-Aslantas, Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture, New Series, 8.2 (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1999), (accessed ...), pp. 54-55.

7. Image: Iza, Karatepe - Aslantaş, Turkish Archaeological News, 19 April 2017,ş (accessed ...), Karatepe - Aslantaş Southern Gate.

8. Image: Klaus-Peter Simon, KaratepeSüd6, Wikimedia Commons, 11 September 2011,üd6.jpg (accessed ...).

9. Note: Iza.

10. Note: Wikipedia, s.v. Karatepe bilingual, (accessed ...).

11. Note: UNESCO, Karatepe-Aslantaş Archaeological Site, (accessed ...).

12. Note: Philip Schmitz, Archaic Greek Words in Phoenician Script from Karatepe, American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy Newsletter 12:2 (October 2008), (accessed ...), p. 5.

13. Note: Philip Schmitz, Phoenician KRNTRYŠ, Archaic Greek *ΚΟΡΥΝΗΤΗΡΙΟΣ, and the Storm God of Aleppo, Kleine Untersuchungen zur Sprache des Alten Testaments und seiner Umwelt [KUSATU] 10 (2009),Š_Archaic_Greek_ΚΟΡΥΝΗΤΉΡΙΟΣ_and_the_Storm_God_of_Aleppo (accessed ...), pp. 120-121.

14. Ibid. pp. 120-121, n. 5

15. Joaquim Azevedo, The Origin and Transmission of the Alphabet (1994), Master's Theses, 28, (accessed ...), p. 110.

Çineköy Bilingual [1997] (8th Century BCE)

Çineköy Statue | Klaus-Peter Simon

Çineköy Statue; Klaus-Peter Simon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.1

Çineköy Inscription | Recai Tekoglu, André Lemaire, Ismet Ipek, A Kasim Tosun

Çineköy Inscription; Recai Tekoglu, André Lemaire, Ismet Ipek, A Kasim Tosun. Source: Tekoglu, Lemaire, Ipek, Kasim Tosun (2000).2

Çineköy Statue; Tayfun Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, Bora Bilgin /

Çineköy Statue; Tayfun Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, Bora Bilgin / Source: Hittite Monuments.3

Çineköy Inscription; Tayfun Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, Bora Bilgin /

Çineköy Inscription; Tayfun Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, Bora Bilgin / Source: Hittite Monuments.4

Luwian Hieroglyphics | Ingeborg Simon

Luwian Hieroglyphics; Ingeborg Simon. Source: Wikimedia Commons.?

𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤅[𐤓𐤉𐤊(𐤎) 𐤁𐤍...]
𐤀𐤔𐤐𐤇 𐤌𐤐𐤔 [𐤌𐤋𐤊 𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌]
𐤄𐤁𐤓𐤊 𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤀𐤔 [𐤉𐤓𐤇𐤁𐤕]
𐤁𐤕 𐤀𐤓𐤑 𐤏𐤌𐤒 [𐤀𐤃𐤍] [𐤁𐤏𐤁𐤓]
𐤁𐤏𐤋 𐤅𐤁𐤏𐤁𐤓 𐤀[𐤋 𐤀𐤁𐤕] [𐤅𐤐𐤀]
𐤋 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤀𐤐 𐤎𐤎 [𐤏𐤋 𐤎𐤎] [(𐤅)𐤌]
𐤇𐤍𐤕 𐤏𐤋 𐤌𐤇𐤍𐤕 𐤅𐤌𐤋𐤊 [𐤀𐤔𐤓] [𐤅]
𐤊𐤋 𐤁𐤕 𐤀𐤔𐤓 𐤊𐤍 𐤋𐤉 𐤋𐤀𐤁 [𐤅𐤋]
𐤀𐤌 𐤅𐤃𐤍𐤍𐤉𐤌 𐤅𐤀𐤔𐤓𐤉𐤌
𐤊𐤍 𐤋𐤁𐤕 𐤀𐤇𐤃 𐤅𐤁𐤍 𐤀𐤍𐤊 𐤇𐤌𐤉[𐤕]
𐤁𐤌𐤑𐤀 𐤔𐤌𐤔 𐤔𐤌𐤍𐤕 𐤛𐤛𐤚 𐤅𐤁𐤌
𐤁𐤀 𐤔𐤌𐤔 𐤔𐤁𐤏𐤕 𐤛𐤛𐤖 𐤅𐤊𐤍 𐤗𐤛𐤚
(1) ʾnk w[ryk(s) bn...]
ʾšpḥ mpš [mlk dnnym]
hbrk bʿl (2) ʾš [yrḥbt]
bt ʾrṣ ʿmq [ʾdn] [bʿbr]
bʿl wbʿbr ʾ[l ʾbt] (3) [wpʾ]-
l ʾnk ʾp ss [ʿl ss] (4) [(w)m]-
ḥnt ʿl mḥnt (5) wmlk [ʾšr] [w]-
kl bt ʾšr kn ly lʾb [wl]-
ʾm (6) wdnnym wʾšrym
kn lbt ʾḥd (7) wbn ʾnk ḥmy[t]
bmṣʾ šmš šmnt III III II wbm-
bʾ šmš šbʿt III III I wkn X III II
I am [ʾnk] W[araika son of X] [wryks bn...],
descendant [ʾšpḥ] of Mopsos [mpš], [king [mlk] of the Adaneans, [dnnym]]
the blessed one [hbrk] of Baal [bʿl], (I) who [extended] [ʾš yrḥbt]
the house [bt] of the land [ʾrṣ] of the plain [ʿmq] [of Adana [ʾdn], by the grace [bʿbr] of]
Baal [bʿl] and by the grace [wbʿbr] of the g[ods of my father(s)] [ʾl ʾbt].
And I [ma]de [wpʾl ʾnk] horse [on top of horse] [ʾp ss ʿl ss]
[and ar]my on top of army [wmḥnt ʿl mḥnt]. And the king [wmlk][of Assyria] [ʾšr]
[and] all [wkl] the house [bt] of Assyria [ʾšr] became father [and mo]ther to me [kn ly lʾb wlʾm],
and Adaneans [wdnnym] and Assyrians [wʾšrym]
became one house [kn lbt ʾḥd]. And I built [wbn ʾnk] walled fortress[es] [ḥmyt]:
on the sunrise [bmṣʾ šmš šmnt] eight (8) [III III II],
on the sunset [wbmbʾ šmš šbʿt] seven (7) [III III I], and there were (altogether) [wkn] 15 [X III II].

Transliteration and translation source: Yakubovich (2015).5

Transliteration source: Recai Tekoglu, André Lemaire [2000] (p. 995).


Goedegebuure (n.d.): The ÇİNEKÖY inscription of king Waraika of Hiyawa..., a Phoenician-Luwian the third bilingual text from Cilicia, in addition to the well-known Phoenician-Luwian KARATEPE 1 bilingual, and the extremely eroded and nearly illegible Assyrian-Phoenician İncirli bilingual.6

Schmitz (2009): In most details the statue is similar to the monumental standing male deity figure excavated in 1997 at Çineköy, about 160km south of Karatepe (Ismet Ipek and A. Kazim Tosun in Tekoğlu and Lemaire 2000: 966-67; photographs: 962, fig. 1, 963, fig. 2, 964,fig. 3). The stone statue base, also recovered, portrays a complete chariot drawn by two bulls or oxen. The hands of the Çineköy statue are adjoined in front of the body, and grasp objects that I cannot identify. The statue base carries inscriptions in Hieroglyphic Luwian and Phoenician. The Hieroglyphic Luwian text designates the deity (DEUS) TONIT[RUS] (Tekoğlu in Tekoğlu and Lemaire 2000: 968, sections I and III), representing Tarḫunzas. The Phoenician text refers to the deity simply as B‘L or B‘L KR (Lemaire in Tekoğlu and Lemaire 2000: 994, lines 3, 5, 16-17). The deity B‘L KR is also attested in the Phoenician inscription from Çebelıres Dağı (KAI 287.5) and on the lost marble vase from Sidon (Barnett 1969; Lipiński 1970: 43-46; Bonnet 1988: 78-80; 1992).7

1. Image: Klaus-Peter Simon, AdanaMuseumCineköy, Wikimedia Commons, 22 September 2011,öy.jpg (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Recai Tekoglu, André Lemaire, Ismet Ipek, and A Kasim Tosun, La bilingue royale louvito-phénicienne de Çineköy, Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres [CRAI] 144e année, N. 3 (2000), (accessed ...), p. 995, Fig. 27: Inscription phénicienne : fac-similé.

3. Image: Hittite Monuments, Çineköy, (accessed ...).

4. Ibid.

?. Image: Ingeborg Simon, Adana Museum Çineköy 01, Wikimedia Commons, 16 September 2017,Çineköy_01.jpg (accessed ...).

5. Note: Ilya Yakubovich, Phoenician and Luwian in Early Iron Age Cilicia, Anatolian Studies (British Institute at Ankara) 65 (2015), (accessed ...), pp. 40-41.

6. Petra Goedegebuure, Poldering in Beyond-the-River: revisiting the end of the ÇİNEKÖY inscription, To be published in a Festschrift (n.d.),ÇİNEKÖY_inscription_FINAL_SUBMITTED_VERSION_ (accessed ...), p. 1.

7. Note: Philip Schmitz, Phoenician KRNTRYŠ, Archaic Greek *ΚΟΡΥΝΗΤΗΡΙΟΣ, and the Storm God of Aleppo, Kleine Untersuchungen zur Sprache des Alten Testaments und seiner Umwelt [KUSATU] 10 (2009),Š_Archaic_Greek_ΚΟΡΥΝΗΤΉΡΙΟΣ_and_the_Storm_God_of_Aleppo (accessed ...), pp. 132-133.

Hasanbeyli Inscription [KAI 23, 1894] (8th Century BCE)

Hasanbeyli Stele | Andre Lemaire Hasanbeyli Inscription | Andre Lemaire

Hasanbeyli Inscription; Andre Lemaire. Source: Hittite Monuments.1,2


Hittite Monuments: The inscribed stele was acquired in 1894 by Felix von Luschan at Hasanbeyli which lies just 13 km to the west of Zincirli, but on the western slopes of the Amanus Mountains. It had been reused as a boundary marker during Byzantian times with a short Greek inscription and couple of crosses carved over it. Of the original Phoenician inscription only 5 lines are partially preserved. It mentions the "king of the city of Adana" "king of Assur" and the name Awariku, which is a name also known from Karatepe inscription. Paleographically the stele is dated to a time slightly earlier than Karatepe, so perhaps mid 8th century BCE. Whether Awariku is the same person as Warika of Çineköy and İncirli remains debated. The basalt stele is about 42 cm wide, 34 cm high and 23 cm thick and currently in the inventory of Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin.3

Çambel (1999): KAI 23.4

1. Image: Hittite Monuments, Hasanbeyli Inscription, (accessed ...).

2. Drawing: Ibid.

3. Note: Ibid.

4. Note: Halet Çambel, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Volume II Karatepe-Aslantas, Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture, New Series, 8.2 (Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1999), (accessed ...), p. 74.

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