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Re: orion Leather, parchment, pens, etcetera
I agree, I think, with Stephen Pfann that most Qumran mss were not written
on "leather" nor on "parchment," if these two terms are taken in their
strictest definitions. Helpful as his posts--and his related text in DJD XX
pp.2-6 (which uses "parchment" [!] for 4Q298--do you still mean
that?)--have been, they possibly unintentionally leave two misleading
impressions: 1) that there are relatively few options for preparing skin
surfaces for writing, and 2) that scientific definitions of "leather" and
"parchment" (and "vellum" etc.) are well agreed upon in scholarly
There are many options in skin preparation. This can be seen, e.g.
in the several publications of M. Haran (for some biblio. see Oxf.Enc.Arch
NE 4:248) or in R. Reed, _Ancient Skins, Parchments, and Leathers_
(Studies in Archaeological Science; NY & London, 1972), including a table
of characteristics of leather and parchment on p. 122. It is interesting,
IMO, to see the terminology variations between relevant articles in Oxford
Enc. of Arch. in the NE (1997): articles Parchment, Leather, Writing
Materials, Scribes, etc. There and elsewhere, one can read of "white
leather," "leather prepared as parchment," etc.--see, e.g., vol. 5, p.
360. In other words, the terminological problem existed--even in good
quality publications--even before the Qumran discoveries.
Much as some of us have some vested interest in skin ;-) what I'm
*really* interested in hearing from Stephen P. is how the work on
translating and interpreting R. de Vaux's archaeology notes is going.
Please. E.g., do you think Ein Feshkha was used, in part, for working on
skins? Do you accept J. Magness's revisions of de Vaux's chronology? What
do you make of the "date press" of Y. Magen and A. Drori? Are you ready for
the wrath of a few list-members once you mention that you have (rightly,
IMO) concluded that Essenes lived at Qumran?
As for the work of William Ginell, it may be worth noting that his
name is *not* spelled Ginnell (with two 'n's), despite that misspelling
appearing in BA and DSD. As I can attest, his publications are hard to find
that way. Perhaps the publication Prof. Cryer had in mind was not Ginell's
1993 Getty report, but the Nir-El and Broshi article DSD 3 (1996) page 166.
There they discuss the presence of iron in "parchment and papyrus
fragments." (They already showed the black ink in Qumran samples was
carbon-based, not iron-based, which I don't doubt, though I will mention
that the earliest date of appearance of iron-based black ink is a matter of
dispute.) There they mention pumice, which contains iron (and rubidium).
Pumice (also mentioned by Pfann in DJD above and by many others), if not
native to Qumran (nor Jerusalem!), is not generally rare nor expensive.
At Masada did a small fragment of "Jubilees [?]" survive in part
because it "was found in a garbage heap in a tannery tower"? (E. Netzer,
NewEncArch.Ex.HL, 983); survival of some other Masada texts was aided by
casemate walls, and less water runoff than went to Kh. Qumran.
Elephantine texts, according to P.T. Daniels, JNES 43 
55-68, were written with a split reed pen (held upsidedown) and not with
(rush) brushes. Is that true? There is some scholarly disagreement about
when Egyptians switched from brushes (and palettes?) to pens (and
inkwells?). (Different texts also differ on interpreting the hieroglyph for
scribe/write: did the middle of the three elements *originally* represent a
water pot or a pouch with dye cakes?) Some say pens came into use when
harder writing surfaces (e.g., parchment) came in, or when the Coptic
alphabet was introduced by Greeks. How do the Jewish texts of Elephantine
fit in? Emil Kraeling, _The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri_ (1953) relates
that Charles Edwin Wilbour obtained "six scribes' palettes" (i.e., palettes
combined with "pen" [brush, i.e., chewed rush]) holders) from the same
women from whom he got the mss; two appear in plate XX. Kraeling said he
would publish an Aramaic inscription on one such wooden item later in
BASOR. But apparently--based on a look at J. Fitzmyer [who, incidently,
calls Qum. mss "leather"] and S. Kaufman, _ An Aramaic Bibliography part 1_
(1992). Does anyone know if this--and the other four palettes also in
Brooklyn-- appeared? B. Porten in BA 42 (1979) p76 certainly leaves the
impression that the "two reed [literally, rush] brushes" in one of the
Elephantine palettes pictured there were the type of writing instrument
used on Elephantine mss. And are these dipped differently?
This is getting too long. I'd appreciate any leads on the pen and
brush story. And, again: Stephen Pfann, please tell us of your work on de
Stephen Goranson firstname.lastname@example.org