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Qeiyafa Ostracon Chronicle

15 October 2009: Dr. Haggai Misgav, the expedition epigraphist who studied the ostracon, presented his analysis of the script and the text at a workshop entitled "New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region." This conference took place at the Hebrew University Mount Scopus campus, in cooperation between the Institute of Archaeology and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The published conference proceedings include a detailed article with a photograph and a drawing. A few months earlier, Misgav's article was given to three experts on West Semitic epigraphy for review: Dr. Ada Yardeni, Prof. Aaron Demsky and Prof. Shmuel Ahituv. All three examined the ostracon at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The comments of these scholars were also published in the conference proceedings.

Misgav, H., Garfinkel, Y. and Ganor, S. 2009. The Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon. In Amit, D., Stiebel, G.D. and Peleg-Barkat, O. eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region, pp. 111-123. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority and the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew).

Ahituv, S. 2009. The Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription - Response C. In Amit, D., Stiebel, G.D. and Peleg-Barkat, O. eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region, pp. 130-132. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority and the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew).

Demsky, A. 2009. The Enigmatic Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa - Response B. In Amit, D., Stiebel, G.D. and Peleg-Barkat, O. eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region, pp. 126-129. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority and the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew).

Yardeni, A. 2009. The Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription - Response A. In Amit, D., Stiebel, G.D. and Peleg-Barkat, O. eds. New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region, pp. 124-125. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority and the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew).

Qeiyafa Ostracon
Colored photo of the ostracon (by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority).

Qeiyafa Ostracon
Infrared photo of the ostracon (by Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority).

Qeiyafa Ostracon
Drawing of the ostracon (by Haggai Misgav).

Prof. Ahituv
Prof. Shmuel Ahituv examines the ostracon.


24 December 2009: A final excavation report on the 2007-2008 excavation seasons at Khirbet Qeiyafa was published in English. Three chapters in this report (14, 14A and 15) deal with the inscription. Two of the articles published in Hebrew in the proceedings of the conference "New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region" (see 15 October 2009 above) appear in this volume in English.
According to Dr. Misgav reading: "The combined conclusions produce the following proposed reading of the text:

אל תעש[ ] ועבד א[ת]
שפט בואלמ [ ]אלט
א?ל? ובעלל
א[ ]מ ונקמ יח/סד מלכ ג[ת]?
סרנ ע[ ...] מג/דרת
The inscription begins with several words of command which may be judicial or ethical in content, as noted above. The end of the inscription contains words which may relate to the area of politics or government. It is difficult to extract more meaning from this text at the present stage. We can determine, however, that the text has continuity of meaning, and is not merely a list of unconnected words".

Dr. Ada Yardeni's drawing of the inscription was published for the first time in this final report. She suggest the following reading:
אלתעש[?] : ועבדא[?] :
________________
שפט [?]ב[?] ואלמ[?] שפט י.
____________________
[?]גר[?]בעלל...מ[?]כי
______________
א[?]מ.נקמיבדמלכ
____________
חרמ[?].שכ.גרת.
Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1. Excavation Report 2007-2008
XX + 304 pages, 21 x 31 cm, hardcover
c. 350 illustrations, 94 pages with color photos
ISBN 978-965-221-077-7
$72 ($54 to members of the Israel Exploration Society), airmail postage $13
Orders: Israel Exploration Society, E-mail: ies@vms.huji.ac.il

Misgav, H., Garfinkel, Y. and Ganor, S. 2009. The Ostracon. In Garfinkel, Y. and Ganor, S. 2009. Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1. Excavation Report 2007-2008, pp. 243-257. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Yardeni, A. 2009. Further Observations on the Ostracon. In Garfinkel, Y. and Ganor, S. 2009. Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1. Excavation Report 2007-2008, pp. 259-260. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Bearman, G. and Christens-Barry, W.A. 2009. Imaging the Ostracon. In Garfinkel, Y. and Ganor, S. 2009. Khirbet Qeiyafa Vol. 1. Excavation Report 2007-2008, pp. 261-270. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Qeiyafa Ostracon
Drawing of the ostracon (by Ada Yardeni).

FQeiyafa Ostracon
The upper left corner of the ostracon (by CRI laboratory).

Qeiyafa Ostracon
The ostracon in full flattened contrast (by Megavision laboratory)


24 December 2009 : Dr. Greg Bearman and William A. Christens-Barry published an article describing the imaging techniques of ancient inscriptions, with examples of the Khirbet Qeiyafa inscription.

Bearman, G. and Christens-Barry, W.A. 2009. Spectral Imaging of Ostraca. PalArch's Journal of Archaeology of Egypt/Egyptology, 6(7):1-20.


7 January 2010: Prof. Gershon Galil published a proposed reconstruction of the inscription:
  • you shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord].
  • Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an]
  • [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and]
  • the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king.
  • Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.
A press release by Haifa University states: "This text is a social statement, relating to slaves, widows and orphans. It uses verbs that were characteristic of Hebrew, such as `asah ("did") and `avad ("worked"), which were rarely used in other regional languages. Particular words that appear in the text, such as almanah ("widow") are specific to Hebrew and are written differently in other local languages. The content itself was also unfamiliar to all the cultures in the region besides the Hebrew society: The present inscription provides social elements similar to those found in the biblical prophecies and very different from prophecies written by other cultures postulating glorification of the gods and taking care of their physical needs.

The contents of the text express social sensitivity to the fragile position of weaker members of society. The inscription testifies to the presence of strangers within the Israeli society as far back as this ancient period, and calls to provide support for these strangers. It appeals to care for the widows and orphans and that the king-who at that time had the responsibility of curbing social inequality-be involved. This inscription is similar in its content to biblical scriptures (Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, Exodus 23:3, and others), but it is clear that it is not copied from any biblical text."

Qeiyafa Ostracon
The heavily reconstructed interpretation of Prof. Gershon Galil (Drawing by Gershon Galil).

Open Letter to Prof. Gershon Galil, Haifa University



19 January 2010: The ostracon has been placed in the Israel Museum upon approval by the Israel Antiquities Authority, and is no longer in the possession of the Qeiyafa Expedition. It will be on permanent display to the public in the museum's archaeology gallery when it reopens following several years of closure for major renovations.


April 2010: A new drawing and a new reading were presented by Prof. Emile Puech: Lג€™Ostracon de Khirbet Qeyafa et les debuts de la royaute en Israel. Revue Biblique 117: 162-184.

EP drawing of Ostracon


25 July 2010: The ostracon is now on display at the renovated Iron Age gallery of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

EP drawing of Ostracon


2010-2011 new publications G. Galil, 2009. The Hebrew Inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa/Neta'im: Script, Language, Literature and History. Ugarit Forschungen 41, pp. 193-242.

S.H. William, 2009. The Qeiyafa Ostracon. Ugarit Forschungen 41: 601-610.

H. Shanks, 2010. Prize Find: Oldest Hebrew Inscription. Biblical Archaeology Review 36/2: 51-55.

H. Misgav, 2011. The Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon. Qadmoniot 44, pp. 13-16 (Hebrew).

C. Rollston, 2011. The Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon: Methodological Musings and Caveats. Tel Aviv 38, pp. 67-82.

E. Lipinski, 2011. Najstarsza inskrypcja hebrajska. Studia Judaica 14, pp. 143-150 (Polish).