Tuesday, October 15, 2019

PHOENICIANS IN PUERTO RICO



 Source: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article235714732.html
This is one sample of a large collection of inscribed stones that were discovered in the mountains in the western end of the island of Puerto Rico;  these rocks are known as Las Piedras del Padre Nazario, or Father Nazario’s Stones, named after José María Nazario, a priest and amateur archaeologist from Guayanilla on Puerto Rico’s southern coast, who found some 800 of these objects in the 1880s;  they were examined sceptically and superficially in the early 1900s by a Harvard-trained scientist (zoologist interested in anthropology), Dr Jesse Walter Fewkes, and they have ever since been considered to be forgeries or fakes; but local archeologist Reniel Rodríguez Ramos has been studying them since 2001,  and he hopes to use them as evidence of the ancient (precolumban) history of the country.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article235714732.html#storylink=cpywho found them in the 1880s;

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/article235714732.html#storylink=cpy
   Another photograph of this particular stone:
https://www.pressreader.com/puerto-rico/el-nuevo-dia/20160313/281745563492806

This has the advantage of showing more of the writing on the  right hand side of the stone (actually the top, when the inscribed signs are oriented correctly).
   Looking first at the lower section, and reading between the lines, so to speak, we see a character that is like a figure 9; it could be a B of the Phoenician alphabet, but my experience of West Semitic (Phoenician/Canaanian) scripts urges me to view this and all the other signs vertically rather than horizontally, thus:

This makes more sense to me, and I am astonished: we have here a selection of letters ("syllabograms") from the West Semitic syllabary of the Bronze Age. After a period of contemplation of this array of characters, I am thinking that the inscriber's intention was not to write words or names, but simply three sets of related syllabograms, nine in total. The West Semitic syllabic script is the forerunner of the West Semitic consonantary (the Phoenician consonantal alphabet, from which all other alphabets are derived, notably the Grecian and the Roman). As I have argued in my essay on the origin of the alphabet (2014), most of the letters in the Phoenician alphabet were already in the syllabary, and an example of T (a cross) stands before us, but in an oblique stance; if it had equal strokes like the multiplication sign (X) it would be the syllabogram KU (according to the decipherment of George Mendenhall, published in 1985, and slightly modified by myself in 1992). The syllabary had three signs for each consonant, representing TA, TI, TU, or KA KI KU, and in many cases the sign with the -a vowel was borrowed for the protoalphabet; D was a door (DA from daltu door), but the cross was apparently TU, and the K was KI. Both writing systems (syllabary and consonantary) were constructed by employing the acrophonic ("summit sound") principle, whereby the first sound (syllable or consonant) of the word that described the object in each sign: hence DA and D from daltu door.
   We may begin our quest with the sign at the top in the centre: I see it as an eye, for which the Semitic word is `aynu, and so it is an -a syllable, with a guttural consonant, conventionally transcribed as an inverted or reversed comma, an apostrophe (like a superscript c, or here `); this symbol had become circular by the time  it entered the Hellenic alphabet as the vowel o (Omikron); the Greeks had no use for it as a guttural consonant, and likewise the Romans, so they gave it a vocalic (vowel) function. Here the eye has an appendage, which may identify it as the sacred eye of the god Horus (Egyptian hieroglyph D10 in the classification system of Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, p. 451); this would distinguish it from the mouth sign (PU, alphabetic P,  appearing as () when in vertical stance); there might also be some eyelashes at the top, and even a pupil.

   Next, to the left of  `A  is a "semi-oval", like an inverted letter U, and by coincidence it represents the syllable `U (from `ushru, tithe, ten) again according to the decipherment of Mendenhall and Colless).
   Moving now to the right of the eye-sign (between the double lines) we have another incomplete oval, which Mendenhall recognized as `I, and my suggestion is that it goes with `ipipu eyelid.
  So, amazingly, we have the three signs that refer to a particular consonant with the three standard vowels (u, a, i, as in Arabic). Is there a similar pattern in the remaining characters?
   Below the eye-sign is an object that looks like a throne or a step; Mendenhall and I connected it with hudmu footstool, and identified it as the syllabogram HU.
   Further to the right, between the lines and below the eyelid, is a square building with an entrance (viewed from above), a temple (haykalu) and thus HA.
   Finally, outside the trainlines, is a murky version of HI, from hillulu jubilation (as in Halleluyah! Celebrate Yahweh!); it is a figure of a person jubilating with arms raised; the alphabetic version of H was used by the Greeks and Romans for the vowel E (note the head and arms, with the body discarded over the centuries of evolution).
   Returning now to the large leaning cross: Mendenhall and I felt that the cross was TU. Our choice for TI is found in the serpentine sign below the temple, though it is not a snake but a harp (tibbuttu).
   But where is the sign for TA? The sequence for `ayin and H was, from left to right: -U, -A, -I, and, by the way, these are the case endings for nouns (nominative u, accusative a, genitive i). On our tables, Mendenhall and I have preferred the AIU order, in accordance with the AEIOU pattern in the English alphabet; but strange to say, I had recently thought of changing from AIU to UAI, and suddenly this document popped up and demanded my attention.
   Accordingly, we search between the cross and the harp for a character constructed of two vertical parallel lines (which need not be of the same length), joined at the top by a crossbeam, and constituting a grapevine stand; I have suggested that it was associated with tarashu, a word for "new wine".  Such a figure could perhaps be construed from the scored marks above the cross and below the `U.
An example of the vine-stand is available on another of the Puerto Rico stones, from the Smithsonian museum:

https://www.si.edu/object/nmnhanthropology_8054223
The TA (note the post on the right is longer, but they can be equal in length).
The zigzag sign represents waves of water, and was M in the protoalphabet, and MU in the protosyllabary.
TAMU. "perfect" or "Perfection". The name of a worshipper?
Mu Ta  (logograms or ideograms) water and new wine? (a mixed drink?)
"Total"? Are the dots numerical?

For the record. here is another part of the same stone:



There is mention of a stone slab covered with such characters, and that is something I would really like to see; it might have a complete table of the West Semitic syllabary.

Statuettes are also part of the collection: this Smithsonian stone may be a figurine; and the stone we have already examined, with all the `ayin, H, and T syllable-signs, is  in the shape of a human bust (head and chest sculpture), as can be seen in this picture:

Dr. Iris Groman-Yaroslavsky, left, with Prof. Reniel Rodríguez Ramos
examining some of the Puerto Rican figurines at Haifa University
 https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-ancient-trove-may-attest-to-lost-civilization-in-puerto-rico-1.7501553
She is holding our prize object, and he has this other statuette in his hands.
 
In the middle line of the inscription on this figurine is a typical letter Sh of the protoalphabet, as seen on inscriptions from the Sinai turquoise mines: it is based on an Egyptian  symbol for the sun, with a serpent on each side; in the known inscriptions the sun-disk could be shown or omitted, and it is tempting to see this as a case where the sun is retained; a similar sign appears on the top line, on the left (and possibly another one on the left), but this could represent human breasts (thad or shad), and therefore stand for the sound Th (as in thing); the usual form of this character is more angular, resembling the English letter W. In the bottom line we can perhaps see an alphabetic L (a herdsman's crook); if so, this would not be a syllabic text. However, the fine details on the baseline are not clear, and I can imagine the letter next to it is a Q (--o-) a cord wound on a stick, or W (--o) a nail; further left a Sadey (emphatic s or ts) a tied bag. But my brain is merely constructing things it already knows from tricks of light in a photograph.
   Here is another view of this object:
    My L is now uncertain; but there is possibly a LA-syllabogram at the bottom. There is a clear bovine head in top left position, which could be syllabic 'A or alphabetic 'Aleph (Alpha). The Sh-sun with its two serpents is still there in the centre, but, as I know from experience, it could be syllabic SHA as well as consonantal Sh. However, it is not known in the Phoenician consonantal alphabet of the Iron Age (after 1200 BCE). Therefore, this West Semitic writing would have been introduced into this island in the Bronze Age.
   Note that the West Semitic syllabary and consonantary (the protoalphabet) functioned in tandem in the Bronze Age (before 1200 BCE).

But for some shock treatment we must now go back to the University of Haifa
 Dr. Iris Groman-Yaroslavsky examined the objects in depth at her laboratory. Her findings confirmed that the objects were carved in the sixteenth century, and are not a modern forgery, and she also discovered evidence showing that some of the objects were coated in gold and in red paint. “This is definitely one of the strangest and most fascinating stories I’ve been involved in,” Dr. Groman-Yaroslavsky confessed. “To date, we have not found any similar carved stone art objects from this region of America, and this is why many researchers assumed that they must be fake. However, the microscopic tests we performed show beyond any doubt that the stones were carved around 600 years ago.”
What? Where do we go from here?! Well, we read the rest of that article (University of Haifa), where we are told that the figurines are "ancient".
   Focusing on the main figurine that we are deciphering, one possibility would have been that these marks were added very recently. I have always told myself that I can safely assume that any West Semitic syllabic inscription that comes to my attention must be genuine, because Mendenhall's decipherment was not published till 1985; but now someone could have taken this accessible object and copied all the `ayin, H, and T signs onto it, using Mendenhall's Table 3 (p. 19). Not expletively likely, I would have to say.
   If the marks were carved into this figurine "600 years ago" (a point in time that can not quite be labeled as Precolumban, before Christopher Columbus arrived, in AD 1492 CE) some very ancient document from the Bronze Age must have been available for reference (I would like to see whether the reported slab with a lot of marks on it is a table of the signs of the syllabary); or else this was a copy of a much older artefact. I would prefer to think that this was an original piece from the Mediterranean Bronze Age, and it was inscribed with this West Semitic writing system in that era, since it fell into disuse in its homeland in the Iron Age.
   Returning to our starting point: if we allow that the inscriber actually wanted to make a statement with the set of signs from the syllabary (`ayin, H, T) and that the characters were intended to function not as syllabograms but as logograms or ideograms, then this could be the meaning:
The eye of the day (EYELID) has risen and the sun-god (Horus-eye) is enthroned (FOOTSTOOL) in the sanctuary (TEMPLE); and there is jubilation (HILLUL) with music (HARP), and ten (`USHRU) measures of wine (TARASHU), and sacrifices (CROSS?!).
   The last detail is suspect, but human sacrifice was a feature of the culture that was established in southern America by the Mediterranean visitors or invaders.
However, there are analogies for this scenario, with reference to worship of a goddess: the Wadi el-Hol inscription, and an inscription on a bowl (from Byblos?); both have the word "wine" (WN) and they mention animal sacrifice.
   A striking fact to emerge from the microscopic analysis at Haifa University, was the presence of  ochre (for reddening lips) and gold. Metals were what drew the Phoenicians to distant shores, such as Cornwall and Devon for tin; and they left inscriptions: a silver mine in Scandinavia, a gold mine in Texas. Puerto Rico island has gold mines, and there may be inscriptions waiting to be discovered there.
   Further westward from Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea, in Jamaica a copper cup has come to light, and its WS syllabic inscription about wine adds confirmation to the presence of Phoenicians in the same places that Columbus and the Spaniards visited three millennia later. 

RRR takes us on a tour of the tables on which his collection is displayed (Spanish Language):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ung5Kk8r_q4#action=share
This link has some more mysterious inscriptions:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDL6VK4dQeA  

My final summation is this: West Semitic writing of the Bronze Age, both protosyllabic and protoalphabetic, has been found on Caribbean islands and on the mainland of America. This fact should no longer be ignored.

 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

WEST SEMITIC SYLLABIC CYLINDER




Garbini, Giovanni; Maria Michela Luiselli & Guido Devoto (2004): "Sigillo di età amarniana da Biblo con iscrizione." Rendiconti dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 9/15, 377-390.

The remarkable little object we see at the top is a cylinder stamp or seal (the photograph shows an imprint of its features), apparently emanating from somewhere in Phoenicia, possibly Byblos (Gubla), and published by Giovanni Garbini (now deceased); he recognized two striking features: it imitates the family portrait of Pharaoh Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti, with their three daughters (Egyptian Museum, Berlin, 14145), and it has inscriptions in the West Semitic syllabic script (whereas the Egyptian counterpart has hieroglyphic writing). Since Akhenaton reigned in the middle of the fourteenth century before the current era (BCE), the Semitic artefact could not be earlier than that. One typical detail in each image is the sun disc (Aton) with its rays having hands to distribute its benefits, which are celebrated in the Hymn to the Aton.
   Notice that the Phoenician image is reversed: the personage corresponding to Nefertiti (who is holding two children) is on the left side of the photograph, and the father (with one daughter) is on the right. It is not clear that the Semitic couple are meant to be Akhenaton and Nefertiti; the headdresses are not the same as those on the Egyptian royals. On the plaque the names of the Egyptian family members are recorded in hieroglyphs in columns and cartouches: the daughters are Meritaten, Meketaten, and Ankhesenpaaten; Tutankhaten (later King Tutankhamen, not a child of Nefertiti) is not in the picture. One suggestion is that the three columns of Semitic text provide the daughters' names (Michael Mäder), and this would assist us in deciphering this script.
   However, this is not the result we get when we apply the system of decipherment proposed by George Mendenhall in 1985, and adopted and adapted by myself as the West Semitic logo-syllabary.
   This exercise will be undertaken with the aid of a model prepared by Mäder.

Michael Mäder (University of Bern, personal communication) sets forth a prima facie case of circumstantial evidence, whoch is very attractive. This is an edited version of his statements (the original is reproduced at the end of this essay).
 On the Egyptian Familenstele Berlin, 14145 (Krauss 1991) there are three inscriptions which include the names Meketaton, Meritaton and Ankhesen-pa-Amun.
 On the Semitic seal, likewise, there are three short texts in corresponding positions, adjacent to the three daughters.
The names  would be read in Egyptian: Meritaton on the legs of father, Meketaton on legs of mother, Ankhesen-pa-Amun on shoulder of mother. 
 They have the same relative extension, i.e. Meketaton and Meritaton short, Ankhesen-pa-Amun longer.
The two shorter ones begin with the same syllable (me) and end with the same (ATON [Egyptogram]).
 In the longest of the names, Ankhesen-pa-Amun, has the expected syllable pa in its 4th position.
 The 4th sign in the Byblos version has the form of a cross or "bird with outspread wings". This suits the fact that pa in Egyptian syllabic writing has the form of a cross (originating from a bird with outspread wings).
The sign in the shape of a "2" would be me (in Meketaton and Meritaton)
The fact that one of the "2"-shaped signs is mirrored fits the Egyptian names which also are mirrored, see Krauss 1991:11.  (It was a habit of Egyptian scribes to place the signs in the same direction as the faces of the persons they describe are heading.)
This is certainly an impressive set of arguments.
In response, we might first ask: If the names of the personages on the seal were given, would it not be the King (Akhenaton) and the Queen (Nefertiti) who were named, rather than the children? The royal couple were the intermediaries between the Sun-deity and humans. If this was a personal seal, the name of its owner might be present.
Second, if the initial signs of the two M...Aton sisters are supposedly mirrored, or rather the signs are facing the depiction of the person who is named, according to the Egyptian convention, I would have to say that these "2" letters are not the same; and the one on the left is actually the second letter in the sequence.
And the signs at the bottom of the cartouches are similar but not the same; they are supposed to represent the Aton, the disc of the sun. The sun-sign in this West Semitic syllabary is found in the long text, in second position: a circle with a dot in it (equivalent to Egyptian hieroglyph N5).
 The proposed form Ankhesen-pa-Amun for the third sister comes as a surprise, but it can be validated: as noted above, Tutankhaten became Tutankhamen, when worship of the Aton was abandoned, and the same principle applies to Ankhesen-pa-aten; but I can not see her name on this cylinder seal. Incidentally, the Egyptian Ankh sign, representing "life", has a place in the West Semitic syllabary, as H.I (h.iwatu, life). It does not appear in these inscriptions, though it could perhaps have been used as logogram in her name.

Hence, I do not see this document as naming the children, but think it might relate to the boat in the upper half: solar barque, ship of the dead? The idea that a justified dead person could travel with the Sun in his ship?.

Columns Ra - Rc (vertical downwards)
[Ra]  HU (hudmu footstool) SHI (shimshu sun) LA (laylu night) KU (X) TA (tarashu wine) SU (sukkatu booth)
[Rb] `A (`aynu eye) TI (tibbuttu harp) GA? (gamlu boomerang) DI (bolt)  WU (Egyp. hieroglyph)                
[Rc] NA (nah.ashu snake, or RU eagle-vulture) BA (baytu house) ZA (eyebrows or tail) TA (or HA?)
[Rd] (L-R?) NI (nigh.atu tusk)  SA SA (samku support) BU (bunduru reed)

hu shi la ku saved (passive-causative, root sh-l-k 2, Job 29.17)
ta su `a ti salvation (root Y/W Sh/S `)
gadi  good-fortune (or Gad, prosperity-deity)
wu and?
na ba za ta  document (cp. shi sa ni ba za ti on Gubla Spatula E; Akkadian nibzu)
ni sa sa bu  stand (Hbr ns.s.b, nip`al of NS.B) 
The seated god resurrects the suppliant?
Perhaps this is a seal or stamp  for making copies of an "indulgence" (Ablass) certificate.
It has apparent connections with my reading of the cylinders from Tuba
https://cryptcracker.blogspot.com/2007/03/oldest-west-semitic-inscriptions-these.html
NUSHI`U "saved"
HLL "Celebrate"
NIKAWANA "he is established"
This reminds me of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, with the deceased passing through the hall of judgement and emerging "justified of voice" (his claim to be innocent has been accepted by the divine judges).

From Michael Mäder (University of Bern):
"- As on the Byblos seal, also on the Familenstele Berlin, 14145, there are three inscriptions which depict the names Meketaton, Meritaton and Ankhesen-pa-Amun.

- They are positioned at the exact same places respectively.

- The names without doubt read in Egyptian: Meritaton on the legs of father, Meketaton on legs of mother, Ankhesen-pa-Amun on shoulder of mother. (This is important, because when the Reader reads your blog he thinks this would be just a theory...)

- They have the same relative extension, i.e. Meketaton and Meritaton short, Ankhesen-pa-Amun longer.

- The two shorter ones begin with the same syllable (me) and end with the same (ATON [Egyptogram])

- The longer one is the only one which ends on a different syllable, a fact which would fit to the (later) different ending of Ankhesen-pa-Amun (AMUN? not Aton? BEC)

- In the longest of the names, Ankhesen-pa-Amun, has the expected syllable pa in its 4th position.
-  The 4th sign in the Byblos version has the form of a cross or "bird with outspread wings". This suits the fact that pa in Egyptian syllabic writing has the form of a cross (originating from a bird with outspread wings)

- Based on these considerations Michael Mäder (University of Bern, personal information) suggests the reading of the two respective Byblos signs as me and pa: me is the sign in the shape of a "2", and pa is the sign in the shape of a cross.
- The fact that one of the "2"-shaped signs is mirrored fits to the Egyptian names which also are mirrored, see Krauss 1991:11.  (It was a habit of Egyptian scribes to place the signs in the same direction as the faces of the persons they describe are heading.)"

Krauss 1991 =
Krauss, Rolf (1991): Die amarnazeitliche Familienstele Berlin 14145 unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Massordnung und Komposition. Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 33, 7-36.





Thursday, May 30, 2019

JERUSALEM JAR INSCRIPTION (2)




17 May 2019
My latest suggestion
 Reading syllabically from right to left (sinistrograde):
 ... N  [  ] [YA] NU H.U LU QU (U?) M ...
"... bad/sour (h.ulqu) wine (yanu) and (u?) water (M...)"
This interpretation follows the line laid down by Gershon Galil and Douglas Petrovich: in their view the pot was  a vessel containing inferior wine, possibly for workers on building sites in Jerusalem.
   Perhaps the full text contained a word for "jar" or even "pithos"; Ugaritic dn (also Arabic and Aramaic) was a jar for wine (and vinegar, Yoma 28b, Jastrow 315a). But Raz Kletter (268) says "Galil's reading does not fit the Jerusalem pithos, since it is not a wine vessel", and Kletter maintains that position because it has "a very large, open mouth",  and this would allow the wine to have contact with oxygen and be ruined. This might support my first idea that it was for storing water, rather than wine; but if this was intended to be a container for spoiled wine, which was placed on open access for drinkers to put a ladle or cup into it, then there can be no objection.
   Kletter dismisses my water-jar solution because I cannot adduce such an inscribed vessel from the Iron Age, although I can find apparent examples in the Late Bronze Age (from Gezer, see above).
   Similarly, he points out that the term h.lq is not found with reference to wine in any other inscription in Palestine/Israel, nor in the Bible. But this could be an isolated and welcome instance of that usage, already attested at Ugarit; and maybe the language of Yebus (Yerushalayim) was closer to Ugaritic than to Israelian Hebrew. At the same time he ridicules the thought that a container of wine could be labeled as "inferior" or "bad". But that would only apply if the commodity was for sale, not if it was being offered gratis. This jar was perhaps made and marked as a receptacle for such liquid, and so it would probably not have royal references on it.
   Precisely what was meant by yn hlq remains unclear. If the primary sense of hlq is 'perish', parallel with mt 'dead', and the opposite of t.b (Cyrus Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, Glossary, 969, p. 403) then such wine (a 'perishable' food) would be 'perished', 'gone bad', or 'become rotten', no longer 'good' (sweet) and thus 'sour' (vin aigre, vinegar). Biblical Hebrew h.lq does not offer obvious assistance, expressing ideas of smoothness or apportioning; but Petrovich leans towards associating the term yyn h.lq with deception (as in smooth-tongued), and proposing the improbable 'pseudo-wine' as the solution. He does mention Ah.ituv's note on h.ms. (vinegar) in Arad Ostracon 2 (Echoes from the Past, 98): Roman legionaries drank posca, "a mixture of vinegar and water, sometimes sweetened with honey". This reminds me of my own daily beverage of water with apple cider vinegar and honey. Of course, wine was customarily drunk with water. I am pondering whether these three ingredients can be found here: water (which I had first suggested as the contents of this vessel) with vinegar, and perhaps also honey.
   The water could easily be found in the final sequence  M[..], as Hebrew mayim, or simply M as a logogram, or an abbreviation. It is more difficult to make this a 'honey pot', finding a place for West Semitic dbs (debash) or nbt.
   But if we are to read the combination "vinegar and water", where is the conjunctive W (or P)?
(The conjunction wa often seems to be lacking: for example, in the Wadi el-Hol list of  sacrificial foods for the `Anat celebration.) It has occurred to me, that the missing WA is actually U (which would be expected here before labial M, in Hebrew) and this could not be represented in consonantal writing; if 'u was written, it would mean 'or'.
   I still need to justify the syllabic reading [YA]NU H.ULUQU, as opposed (but not violently so!) to [YY]N H.LQ.
   For his YYN, Gershon Galil posits two cases of Yod in the style of a character that appears three times on the Qeiyafa ostracon (though Yod also has two other stances in that neo-syllabic text): the arm has the hand (two strokes) pointing downwards, and that would make a total of four vertical lines, one of which is visible, emerging from the gap. However, these reconstructed figures are huge in comparison with the Qeiyafa model; that is not impossible, and its plausibility could be tested if the missing piece of the pot turns up; but I am proposing the alternative prototype of Yod with the hand at the top (as apparently on the Izbet Sartah ostracon, and on the Lakish bowl sherd); the two strokes of the hand (looking like pincers) are partly discernible above the empty space, with the end of the arm protruding at the bottom. However, this leaves a space before the Yod, increasing our frustration that the missing pieces are not available for inspection. There could have been another Yod there, as Gershon Galil suggested, indicating the southern Hebrew form of the word yayin.
   Regarding the syllabic reading, most of the letters are not the standard forms of the international alphabet, and by my calculation there is a preponderance of -u syllabograms in [YA]NU H.ULUQU.
Cyrus Gordon (Glossary 402b) has an Akkadian form hulqu (equated with la t.âbu, 'not good'), and  H.ULUQU is a correct syllabic transcription of that.
   One little defect remains to defeat us: there is a space before the incomplete YA, and it could be another YA, producing [YAYA]NU, yaynu, 'wine' (Judean style). To achieve [YAYI]NI, yayin, the text would have to be read in the opposite direction, but this would annihilate H.ULUQU.
   If the first letter on the right is N, rather than M, and if it is syllabic and not simply the standard Phoenician Nun, then it possibly represents NI, having the reverse form of the other N, which I take to be NU. Could it have been preceded by the syllabic sign HI? Possibilities are: HINI hin measure? hén? hinnè? "Here is" or "This is"?
   The letter He appears twice on the incomplete Beth-Shemesh vertical inscription, engraved on two shards from a vessel. The second is in a sequence HN, accepted by P. Kyle McCarter as the measure hin. The first H has the form of Greco-Roman E. The second H seems to be the same, though the photographs show a projection from the bottom of the spine; this would make it the same as the standard Phoenician form, though reversed (its three strokes could point in the direction of the writing, to the right or to the left, along a horizontal line).
   Kyle McCarter's drawing shows the projecting line as a surface defect in the clay (although it seems to be attached to the letter in photographs)  (McCarter, 188, Figure 5, and 185, n.2). He favours a meaning hin (measure) for the word, and this syllabic sign would provide the HI syllable. When there are a few letters only, it is difficult to establish whether the text is syllabic or consonantal, and that is likewise the problem with the Ophel pot.
    From all the sifting of ancient debris of Jerusalem, the missing pieces of the puzzle might turn up, but we shall probably  never know what the scribe intended. Meanwhile I am holding onto my guess that this was an open-mouthed jar for containing water mixed with vinegar,  for the refreshment of troops of soldiers, and/or gangs of workers. If it is syllabic it is Iron I, like the Qeiyafa ostracon; if it is simply consonantal, but not conforming to the the standard international (Phoenician) alphabet, then it is to be classed with the Eshbaal jar from Khirbet Qeiyafa (Shaarayim), to be dated in late Iron I rather than Iron II, in the time of King Saul, not King David, nor King Solomon, and specifically in the Yebus period of Yerushalayim, before David annexed it to his united kingdom.
   For clarification, let me state my present position on Khirbet Qeiyafa and its two inscriptions: the text of the ostracon is neo-syllabic, and its subject is the victory of David (not King David) over the `Anaq named Guliyut;  the Eshbaal jar inscription is consonantal, but its letters are not in conformity with the international alphabet used in the Levant, of which the characters tend to be the -i syllabograms in the neo-syllabary. The archaeological evidence from Khirbet Qeiyafa (Shaarayim) shows that its existence as a fortress in the Iron I period was of short duration; the presence of Eshbaal, a son of King Saul, on this site indicates that this town was built by King Saul, not King David, as a bastion against the Philistines of Gath and Ekron; but it was apparently destroyed by them, together with the capital city Gibeah (Tell el-Ful), at the time of the battle of Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-7); less probably, it might have been a casualty in the war between the house of Saul and the house of David (2 Samuel 3:1). David chose not to rebuild Shaarayim, but moved further down the road  to make Yerushalayim his stronghold.

   My continuing struggle with the Qeiyafa inscriptions is available for inspection:
https://sites.google.com/site/collesseum/qeiyafa-ostracon-2


References:
Benjamin Sass, The Genesis of the Alphabet (1988)
Brian E. Colless, The Proto-alphabetic inscriptions of Canaan,  Abr-Nahrain (Ancient Near Eastern Studies) 29 (1991) 18-66.
Gershon Galil, ‘yyn ḫlq’ The Oldest Hebrew Inscription from Jerusalem, Strata 31 (2013) 11-26.
Douglas Petrovich, The Ophel Pithos Inscription: Its Dating, Language, Translation, and Script, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 147, 2  (2015) 130-145.
Raz Kletter, Notes on the Jerusalem Iron IIA pithos inscription, Palestine Exploration Quarterly 150, 4 (2018) 265-270.
P. Kyle McCarter et al, An Archaic Ba`l Inscription from Tel Beth-Shemesh .......

http://cryptcracker.blogspot.co.nz/
https://sites.google.com/site/collesseum/

Brian Colless
School of Humanities, Massey University, NZ


(Click on this table of the evolution of the alphabet to view it in enlargement)




































Georgeos Diaz-Montexano said...
Mr. Brian Edric Colless:

I hope that this could be your interest: (In Spanish: La enigmática inscripción del Templo De Salomón. ¿El más antiguo testimonio de paleohebreo?)

Kind regards,
Georgeos
https://www.facebook.com/georgeos.diazmontexano