Friday, October 31, 2008

3,000 Year Old Hebrew Text

An archaeologist is claiming to have found Hebrew text from over three thousand years ago. It dates from the time of King David and was found on a shard of pottery. An article from CNN (titled Archeologist finds 3,000-year old Hebrew text) has the details.

The article notes:

Professor Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem says the inscribed pottery shard -- known as an ostracon -- was found during excavations of a fortress from the 10th century BC.

Carbon dating of the ostracon, along with pottery analysis, dates the inscription to time of King David, about a millennium earlier than the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, the university said.

The shard contains five lines of text divided by black lines and measures 15 by 15 centimeters, or about 6 inches square.

Archaeologists have yet to decipher the text, but initial interpretation indicates it formed part of a letter and contains the roots of the words "judge," "slave," and "king," according to the university. That may indicate it was a legal text, which archaeologists say would provide insights into Hebrew law, society, and beliefs.

The researchers say the text was clearly written by a trained scribe.

As noted by the article, Hebrew evolved a lot in a thousand years. It is not surprising that Hebrew changed so much from three thousand years ago and two thousand years ago. Languages change and evolve. This would probably shock one of the local English language grammar patrollers here in my town. She writes a weekly newspaper column criticizing anyone who writes or speaks differently than her. I note though that she does not speak or write proper Old English. I guess she missed the fact that the language changes and some of her musings are a futile attempt to prevent the evolution of English.

This is a nice find in the Middle East. Congratulations to Dr. Garfinkle.

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