ARAMAIC OSTRACA OF THE FOURTH CENTURY...

The 201 of containing in the book Aramaic ostraca dating 361-311 BC are almost exclusive source for the study of the ethnic structure and the economic life for end of the Persian rule in the Land of Israel and the beginning of the Hellenistic period.

INTRODUCTION # 1. In the late 1960s and the 1970s the number of fifth- to fourth- century BC Aramaic ostraca from Palestine grew considerably. About one hundred late- fifth- century ostraca were found at Tel Arad. 1 The Arad ostraca are mainly short messages concerning specific amounts of barley supplied to horsemen and ass- drivers and their animals. The horsemen and ass- drivers presumably were related to the Persian postal system described by Herodotus ( VII. 98), as Arad was a station in this system ( Naveh 1981). At Tel Beer- sheba 67 fourth- century BC Aramaic ostraca were unearthed; the texts of some of these sherds include exact dates — in which the years are counted from the accession of a certain king, whose name is not stated — and specific amounts of wheat and barley ( Naveh 1973, 1979). Some Aramaic ostraca writ­ten in the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods were also found at Tell Jemmeh; four are dockets similar to those from Beer- sheba dealing with wheat and barley, whereas two others were labels specifying wine ( Naveh 1992a). Single Aramaic ostraca from the same time were also found at Tell el- Faicah ( south) and TelcIra in the Negev as well as in the regions of Yatta and Raphia ( Naveh 1985). All these texts shed light on the history of southern Palestine. The personal names occurring in these dockets portray the ethnic identity of the population. Whereas people of various origins passed through the Arad road- station, the great majority of the people named in the other ostraca were  Edomite Arabs ( Naveh 1979: 194- 95). 2 The state of preservation of these ostraca is not always satisfactory. For example, of the 67 sherds from Beer- sheba only 45 ( Nos. 1- 17 and 27- 54) were legible; the same number was deciphered of the ca. one hundred Arad ostraca. # 2. In recent years hundreds of similar Aramaic ostraca have appeared on the antiquities market. Mr. Lenny Wolfe was kind enough to provide us with photographs of more than 300 inscribed sherds, of which this book includes 201 more or less legible ones. Regrettably, their provenance is unknown to us. However, according to the information gathered from the texts, it can be said that the vast majority were dug out at a site that covers the remains of an ancient town which might have played an important role in Idumaea in the fourth century BC, both in the late Persian and in the very early Hellenistic periods. 1 This date ( pace Naveh 1981: 153) is based on a comparison of scripts of the Arad, Beer- sheba and our ostraca. 2 Aramaic ostraca were found not only in Idumaea and Judaea but also in other regions of Palestine: in Ashdod and in Nebi Yunis near Ashdod, in Elat, in Samaria, in Tel Yoqnecam, etc. [ 9] Chapter Home  | TOC  | Index

ARAMAIC OSTRACA OF THE FOURTH CENTURY BC FROM IDUMAEA


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Front Matter Half Title Page Title Page Copyright Page Table Of Contents Preface INTRODUCTIONREFERENCESABBREVIATIONSContents TEXTS, TRANSLATIONS AND COMMENTARYBack Matter GLOSSARYINDICES OF NAMESPersonal Names in Nos. 1-199 ToponymsPersonal Names in Nos. 200-201 Back Cover
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