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Re: orion-list Pliny Qumran analysis


Dave Washburn told you to look at the photograph of that
ostracon. He did not bring up Golb, _you_ did.

I told you months ago that it was quite clearly a fill-
in-the-blanks legal form... and showed you how it worked.
I also told you that its size and format stated right out
in front that it dealt with the transfer of real property.
I also told you that there are two hands on that ostracon:
a professional scribe who wrote the formulae and a semi-
literate who over-wrote and filled in the variable data.

When we have a portion of a graph written by a professional
scribe, we can judge what the missing portion would have been.
When dealing with a semi-literate, this is impossible... and
all speculations are just that - speculative and not admissible
evidence. There is nothing whatsoever on that ostracon to tie it
to the "yahad."

I don't care what Golb said, and don't go citing Cross and Eshel at
me. I know of precisely five Western trained paleographers who have
managed to get out from under their training - a training that keeps
them from seeing what is there. There are four major problems with
Western Paleographic training - and talk about deja vu all over again -
this exact subject has come up three times now within three weeks.
(Including, via the internet, my catching - from the writing system -
and exposing as a forgery a supposedly authentic document.)

In a nutshell:
1)Western paleographers study script systems, NOT writing systems.
  Many of the problems stem from ripping script systems out of their
  writing system context.
2)Western paleography is based on the traditions of 19th century
  gentlemen amateurs who conflated scribes with calligraphers.
  The situation has not changed in more than 160 years. Paleographers
  are still claiming that scribes "edit," use forms at will, design
  scripts... etc.
3)A serious _alterity_ problem shows up again and again... one
  obvious example is the inability to accept the fact that
  the ancients had guides for darn near everything we have them for;
  they were perfectly aware of the need for fill-in-the-blanks forms.
  Another example that keeps coming up is those comments about
  "even writing."  Are people even aware that "even writing" is quite
  modern, post-enlightenment?
4)Paleographers are not the only people who study script systems;
  there are other professions out there where people dig into
  script systems. Professional calligraphers, of whom there are
  perhaps two dozen in the West, study the history of the script
  systems they work with. They do not study writing systems.
  Professional script designers not only study the script families
  they work with as well as their history, they also must know
  *every* aspect of a writing system. A professional script designer
  combines the eye of the trained artist with the mental attitude
  of a systems engineer - and there are very few professional
  script designers around today. (This is also why it is absurd to
  maintain that scribes, rote learners, design scripts.) Historians
  of writing systems also study complete systems, but unlike professional
  script designers, the historian studies more than one family of writing

Even though Cross was only following the upsidedown training of Western
paleographers, he has done enough damage, thank you, ripping graphic
forms out of their context. Is there one DSS paleographer out there
who is aware of the fact that, as Ugaritic alphabetic cuneiform, the
Phoenician/Hebraic writing system is alphabetic? That is what the
variant forms are all about both in Hebrew and in all the other
languages that borrowed the Phoenician system! Ugaritic had three forms
of aleph - one for each phone; so does the writing system in use at
Qumran... they also differentiate between 'bet' and 'vet'; 'shin' and
'sin', and so on down the line.

When I read these posts I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. It
certainly fills me with sadness; the waste of time and intelligence
over documents that tell us out in front what they are and the
many questions over texts that use a phonetic-based writing system
telling us exactly how words were spoken is tragic.

Now go and look at that ostracon without preconceptions and without
calling on "authority."


I'll even let you in on something I rarely mention as it seems to make
some people uncomfortable. I am not a paleographer; I am a historian of
writing systems. I am also, among other things, a fully trained and
experienced professional script designer who has worked with 9 writing
system families and four language families. That's what got me into the
history of writing systems to begin with.

Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L  risa@hol.gr

For private reply, e-mail to "Rochelle I. Altman" <risa@mail.hol.gr>
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