Prof. Aren Maeir of the Tel es-Safi (Gath) excavation reports:
For those interested, my sources have informed me that this Thursday, in the meeting on the archaeology of Jerusalem that will be held at the Institute of Archaeology, HU, in the late afternoon session on Khirbet Qeiyafa, there will be the first full-scale presentation of the Qayafa inscription (by Garfinkel, Ganor and Misgav), along with a discussion by Yardeni, Demsky and Ahituv.
In addition, in the proceedings volume that will appear at the conference, there will be the first official publication of this fascinating, if very difficult, inscription.
From what I have been told – there is much to be discussed!
This written inscription was discovered on an ostracon (pottery fragment) in 2008 and is the oldest Hebrew text yet discovered – ca. 1000 B.C. It is written in Proto-Canaanite script, but has proven to be much more difficult to translate than originally anticipated. High-tech imaging was used in late 2008 to recover some letters that had faded with time. The Hebrew words for “Don’t do,” “King,” “Judge,” and “Slave” were recognized early. The inscription will be discussed at one of the ASOR sessions in November.
You may see a photo of the the ostracon on Hebrew University’s Khirbet Qeiyafa site and in the “Gallery” section of Foundation Stone’s Elah Fortress site. (The site uses both names. “Elah Fortress” happens to be easier for some Westerners to pronounce than the Arabic name.)
I’ll also mention that our Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation team made a visit to the Tel es-Safi/Gath site in mid-July. Prof. Maeir gave an interesting explanation of their work and the area. I have video from the tour he gave us, but will not post it here since there is a small chance of preempting his own presentation of the season’s finds. The Tel es-Safi team also made a visit to our site in early August just as their season was shutting down. It is common for archaeological teams to visit other sites during their excavation season.
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