Thursday, October 29, 2015

Haaretz notices that Russian seal

SPECTACULAR INDEED: Ancient Judean Seal Found in 2,000-year-old Russian Warrior Woman’s Grave. At first the amazed Russian archaeologists thought the seal was Philistine or Aramaic. It's ancient Hebrew, and says 'Elyashib,' like seals found at fortress Arad. (Julia Fridman, Haaretz).
A spectacular find was made near the Black Sea this summer: Excavating the 2,000-year-old grave of a Sarmatian noblewoman, which miraculously hadn't been looted, the archeologists found a wealth of artifacts – including a carnelian seal with ancient Hebrew letters, centuries older than the tomb.

Well done, Ms. Fridman, for publicizing this important discovery. However, let it be noted — since this article doesn't — that back in August (here, here, here, and here) I broke this story based on the Daily Mail article that publicized the seal. I deciphered the seal, gave a correct date range for it, and recognized that it was probably in Hebrew. Aviv Benedix also followed the story up at his Times of Israel Blog (see here and here) and many of the points raised in the Haaretz article were already raised in the discussion in his posts and in my blog comments on them.

A couple of other points. First, when the article says this ...
What the writing says is simply the name "Elyashib," son of Oshiyahu, whom we know as the commander of an isolated Judean fortress, Arad.
... the natural implication of this sentence, although this may just be due to unclear phrasing, is that the Elyashib (= Elyashiv) of the Russian seal is the same Elyashib as the commander of the fortress at Arad. As I have already said, there is no reason to think they are the same person. As the article goes on to note, the name is found in a number of unrelated inscriptions. It does not note, although I did, that the name also appears in the Bible. Also, I would vocalize the name of the Arad Elyashiv's father as something more like 'Ishyahu (אשיהו), "Man of YHWH."

Second, contra the headline (but correctly in the article), the archaeologists thought it might be Phoenician, not Philistine.

Also, a reminder: you can view a limited number of Haaretz premium articles monthly without charge if you sign up with a free registration.

UPDATE: I have been in touch with Julia Fridman and have learned that she credited both me and Aviv Benedix in her original article, but the credits were removed through an editorial error. She has instructed the editor to add the credits again. Unfortunately, I have now used up my free premium-article allowance for Haaretz and can't view the article again, but I assume the credits have been or imminently will be restored. Thanks to her and Haaretz for correcting the error.