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Re: Above/Below Engedi
On Thu, 16 May 1996, Jim West wrote:
> We might suspect that the inhabitants of Palestine would speak of Jerusalem
> as being "up"; but we cannot expect that a Roman would adopt the same idea.
> Pliny is most likely simply using "below" in its normal geographical sense-
> without any interest in elevation.
> Elsewise we would have to look at other examples in Pliny to see if he
> adopted the natives descriptions in other geographical contexts.
One of the problems with dealing with descriptions given by ancient
authors is that we do not know their sources. If Pliny walked by Ein Gedi
and looked down at X site, he might have said that X site was "below" Ein
Gedi. However, if his source, perhaps a Jewish source, stated that it was
below, then we return to the same argument regardless of how a Roman
might have described the site. It could either be "below" in elevation or
in direction. Without finding archaeological evidence of a site upon
which one may gaze down from Ein Gedi, I think that the likelihood of
"below" meaning elevation is greater than the other possibility.
I would be interested to learn what sources Pliny used for his
descriptions. Can we rule out a Jewish one? Would Pliny really have taken
the time and suffered through the heat of the Dead Sea just to see Ein
Gedi, or would he have taken the word of someone who had seen it?