A personnel of archaeologists from the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the Hebrew College of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology has stumbled on an inscribed sherd on the positioning of Tel Lachish, which is situated in the Shephelah place of abode in current-day Israel and is one among the most prominent Bronze and Iron Age sites of the Southern Levant. Dating to the 15th century BCE, the newly-stumbled on inscription is currently the oldest securely dated alphabetic inscription from the Southern Levant.
The three,450-year-passe alphabetic inscription on a sherd from Tel Lachish, Israel. Image credit: J. Dye, Austrian Academy of Sciences.
“This sherd is one among the earliest examples of early alphabetic writing stumbled on in Israel,” said lead creator Dr. Felix Höflmayer, a researcher on the Austrian Archaeological Institute.
The inscribed sherd is an roughly 4 by 3.5 cm rim fragment from a milk bowl imported from Cyprus.
The inner floor of the sherd’s rim is inscribed in darkish ink, with letters written diagonally.
“Two strains every containing three letters can even be discerned,” Dr. Höflmayer and his colleagues explained.
“Two extra characters are seen on the declare facet of the greater line, and one other is seen between the two strains.”
“Our suggested reading for the tip line is from actual to left:
The most primary letter can even be identified as ʿayin (ע), which is per the Egyptian hieroglyph ‘detect.’ As in most early alphabetic inscriptions from the Southern Levant, the letter is fashioned delight in a circle, akin to an iris with the pupil lacking.
The second letter can even be identified as bet (ב), which is per the Egyptian hieroglyph ‘house.’ The letter has a rectangular shape with one corner start.
The third letter can even be read as dalet (ד), per the Egyptian hieroglyph ‘door.’ The suggested reading for this line may perchance likely merely on account of this fact be עבד, that extend ‘slave,’ and is liable to be fragment of a deepest name.”
“The suggested reading for line two would perchance be from actual to left:
The most primary letter can even be identified as nun (נ), which derives from the Egyptian hieroglyphs ‘horned viper’ and/or ‘cobra.’ This letter can even be identified between strains one and two, and on the declare facet of line one.
The second letter can even be identified as pe (פ). While it’s not exclusively sure from which designate this persona is derived, the hieroglyph for ‘corner’ has been suggested. This designate is outlandish in Center Kingdom inscriptions from Sinai and can merely pronounce a constructing tool.
The third letter can even be identified as tav (ת), and it is again unclear on which designate the persona relies mostly. It goes to be the hieroglyph for ‘crossed planks.’
The suggested reading for line two is on account of this fact נפת, which in Hebrew reach ‘honey’ or ‘nectar.’ If read from left to actual — תפנ — this era of time would be a verb from the muse פני (‘to turn’), or fragment of an unknown name.”
The inscription is roughly 3,450 years passe, making it the oldest securely dated alphabetic inscription from the Southern Levant, and is liable to be regarded because the ‘lacking link’ in the alphabet’s historical previous.
“The early alphabet developed in association with Canaanite miners in Sinai — or, no lower than, used to be taken up by them — at some point of the Center Kingdom in the 18th century BCE,” the archaeologists said.
“We counsel that early alphabetic writing spread to the Southern Levant at some point of the late Center Bronze Age (with the Lachish Dagger likely being the earliest attested example), and used to be in employ by no lower than the mid-15th century BCE at Tel Lachish.”
“Thus, the proliferation into the Southern Levant likely came about at some point of the Center Bronze Age and the Egyptian 2nd Intermediate Interval, when a dynasty of Western Asiatic foundation — the Hyksos — ruled the northern system of Egypt.”
“The brand new alphabetic inscription from Tel Lachish provides new evidence to contextualize the spread of the early alphabet for the length of the duration of Hyksos domination over the Nile Delta and its peaceable enigmatic connections with Center Bronze Age city-states in the Southern Levant,” they added.
“Furthermore, the new early alphabetic inscription dates to a duration that also saw the earliest attested hieratic writing at Tel Lachish, and when Lachish is talked about for the most primary time in Egyptian sources at some point of the reign of Amenhotep II.”
“We now can uncover that early alphabetic writing in the Southern Levant developed independently of, and well sooner than, the Egyptian domination and floruit of hieratic writing at some point of the 19th and 20th dynasties (the 13th and 20th centuries BCE).”
The findings had been published in the journal Antiquity.
Felix Höflmayer et al. Early alphabetic writing in the frail Attain East: the ‘lacking link’ from Tel Lachish. Antiquity, published online April 15, 2021; doi: 10.15184/aqy.2020.157