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Re: orion Qumran ostracon
> A few more notes to contribute to discussion of the new ostracon:
> 1) line 1 "In the year two L". Greg Doudna suggested Murabba'at P.115 leads
> to "usual expectations" (despite day and month being given in deeds
> overwhelmingly before the year) that this year would be followed by day and
> month "in the line 1 lacuna." But P. 115 is in Greek. It is later...
> for conversation's sake we credited it with special relevance, still, isn't
> the ostracon line 1 lacuna too small to include, after "in the second year
> of," the X era on Y day of Z month? I guess we haven't settled on line
> lengths, but I suggest that is too long. Cross and Eshel . . .
The objection on line length is not valid for the reason you
state, line length is unknown. That is the one of the first things to
try to solve on something like this but I can see no way to solve it.
One could assume a proper name of 3-6 letters (few proper
names would be outside this range of number of letters) at the end of
line 2 after "XNY B(N... ) and on this basis reconstruct length
estimates for all lines. While this would read well with "to Eleazar" in
the next line, the problem is the uncertainty: there could be an additional
town of origin, ethnic designator, etc. after the PN in the line 2 lacuna.
Also a date formula "in the year of (ruler), in the _ day of (name of
month)" in line 1 followed by "in Jericho" in line 2 would not take
much space, and a short month name would not be inconsistent in
spacing with a proper name alone at the end of line 2.
But apart from this quibble the rest of the comments concerning
the date make sense. It does seem odd that the year comes first, yet it
seems less odd that this year is a date than that it is something
without any comparative attestation. (suggestion: come up with
economic texts dating things in terms of personal or group events, as
opposed to externally fixed dated events like earthquakes or rulers'
reigns, and then there would be a better basis for argument.) If it
is a date, it would seem very odd for there not to be a day and month,
therefore it goes in the line 1 lacuna. That is the logic I see--but
without any claim to certainty in this.
Fred Cryer and I will be publishing separately, or rather, Fred's
part will be published as he planned it, making the land sale
argument and some other interesting points. I am holding off on mine.
A final comment: these ostraca did not come from where the volunteer
found them by the fence near the cemetery. That was where the heavy
equipment had dumped the dirt which had them. Their original site for
2000 years would have been where the equipment had dug, a few meters
west. If there were two ostraca, why not more? The place to look for
more is not at the find site (which was done) but at the trench dug by the
equipment. I hope there can be another dig at the site of that trench again,
this time by hand. Its also not impossible to radiocarbon date
ostraca, though that's still tough to do at the present state of the art.