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Re: orion-list writing systems


In your previous post you wrote that the distinctions seem to
be "simple random variability." Uh, uh. If we were dealing with
calligraphers you could say that, but we are not; we are dealing
with scribes - with very different training. Once we isolate the
scribal hands, all the "random variablity" will disappear... I
cannot tell you how many times a document has been said to be by
one scribe with "indiscriminate" and "random" use of graph forms and
orthography. One such document, a chronicle, that I _have_ written up
happens to have been written by 14 scribes in 5 dialects over a 34 year
period (all fully illustrated, BTW). Further, only one of the 14 scribes
is there throughout the entire 34 years... (Ah, me, the calligraphic
point of view.)

Up till now, you have learned to distinguish scribal hands by their
similarities. While this is quite understandable when faced with nearly
1000 hands, unfortunately, the methodology is appropriate for calli-
graphers and painters... it is completely backwards when trying to
isolate scribal hands on one document. What you have to do now is to learn
to look for the differences - some of those differences that have already
been noted.

I saw two hands on a quick scan... a closer look showed four - all within
the first 5 lines. (Remember what I said about standard scriptorium
practices on mutli-scribe documents?)

One scribe doesn't bother to have the central stroke meet the left-hand
leg? That's a scribal tag. If he does it on one graph, he'll do it on
another. (This, BTW, is scribe 4.)

Scribe 1 is very careful (and he is by the way) to use a straight
stroke for his 'sin' and a curved stroke for his 'shin'. I chose
the 'shin' in 'shnat' for a very simple reason: the taf is an ideograph
of Scribe 1 - identical with the taf in zot... (the taf in 'eidat' is
too blurred on my copy - even with a jeweller's loop - to ascertain).
(You now have 3 tags for scribe 1.)

Scribe 2 writes both shin and sin with a straight stroke - BUT, he
changes the angle of the right-hand leg. (2 tags)

Scribe 3 writes a "tail" on the right-hand leg of his taf... and
is very careless with his shin/sin. (3 tags)

BTW, I'm giving guidelines and tools. I'm not going to write this
up - you are <G>. By the time you finish sorting out the hands on
this document you will 1) have a much better idea of how scribes
operate; and 2) never again have difficulty spotting scribal tags.

   >However neither Kraft nor I were
   >able to verify your claim from the examples you cited.

Yes and no; I said that it wasn't a good example... 4 scribes in a
hurry to get a cheap job done... it's amazing that Scribe 1 was so
careful anyway. The "Exodus" fragments are quite clear... but I don't
see anyone looking at the Murabba'at fragments of Ex 4:28-31 and
Ex 6:5-6, now do I.

   >However, I also had the subtle
   >impression of a rug being pulled, or being baited
   >and then switched . . .

Nope... even if I do have an impish sense of humor, 'twasn't rug pulling.

   anyway, thanks.)

Your welcome,


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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