A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions
Walter E. Aufrecht
A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions
Walter E. AufrechtThis second edition of A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions presents all of the published inscriptions that have been identified as Ammonite in one volume. Each entry is accompanied by a complete bibliography, a physical description and details about its location, a photograph and/or drawing, relevant linguistic information, and a history of the inscription’s interpretation.
- Sample Chapters
The discovery of the Amman Theater Inscription, Amman Citadel Inscription, Tall Sīrān Bottle, Ḥisbān Ostraca, and Tall al-Mazar Ostraca opened a new chapter in the study of ancient Northwest Semitic inscriptions with the recognition and analysis of the language and script of ancient Ammon. These new discoveries prompted a reclassification of a number of epigraphs previously identified as Hebrew, Phoenician, or Aramaic.
Since the first edition of this corpus, the discussion of the criteria used to classify inscriptions as Ammonite, including provenance, language, onomastics, paleography, and iconography, has advanced considerably. In addition, the number of known inscriptions has increased. This updated edition includes 254 additional inscriptions, four new appendixes, and in many cases, new and improved images.
Walter E. Aufrecht is Professor Emeritus at the University of Lethbridge, where he taught archaeology. He has authored and edited several books and articles on Aramaic and Ammonite languages and literatures, including “An Eye for Form”: Epigraphic Essays in Honor of Frank Moore Cross, also published by Eisenbrauns.
From the Introduction
The discovery of the Amman Theatre Inscription, Amman Citadel Inscription, Tall Sīrān Bottle, Ḥisbān Ostraca, and Tall al-Mazār Ostraca has opened a new chapter in the study of ancient Northwest Semitic inscriptions: the recognition and analysis of the language and script of ancient Ammon. These new discoveries, in turn, have prompted a reclassification of a number of epigraphs previously identified as Hebrew, Phoenician, or Aramaic.
This corpus has been written to make accessible the published inscriptions that heretofore have been identified as Ammonite. My goal has been to be as descriptive as possible, so that the full range of scholarly interpretations about each inscription may be presented. However, it is not possible to present every historical, linguistic, or archaeological datum. The following concerns have guided the preparation of this volume.
First, in order to advance the discussion regarding Ammonite, it became clear that it was necessary to present a complete bibliography for each inscription. The bibliographies in the text include only published materials or materials that are in press. They are organized in chronological order and are as complete as I could make them.
Second, it seemed desirable to provide for each inscription details of its physical description and location so that scholars would be able to find and examine it if they so desired. This was an unexpectedly difficult task, the results of which are far from complete. Although I was able to ascertain the whereabouts of a number of missing inscriptions, some texts are still unaccounted for or are in the hands of private collectors who wish to remain anonymous.
Third, it became clear in researching these materials that a corpus of Ammonite inscriptions without photographs would be of little use. Therefore, for the first edition of this work, I undertook to obtain as many new photographs as possible. But because many inscriptions were not available, I had to include in that edition, older photographs and drawings, some of which had been rephotographed. I was aware of the shortcomings of this procedure and of the poor quality of some of the photographs presented. Nonetheless, it seemed better to have a poor photograph than none at all. Fortunately, better photographs of many (though not all) of these inscriptions are now available, and I am happy to be able to include many of them in this new edition.
Fourth, I have tried to include as much linguistic information as possible within the constraints presented by a corpus. This means, for example, that I have not presented a complete list of cognates for every word in these texts. This volume is intended as a reference to Ammonite inscriptions, not to ancient Near Eastern inscriptions generally, though I have included such references as I deemed relevant. I call to the readerʾs attention the glossary of terms that follows the corpus. This glossary is intended to supplement the linguistic data in the text, but it should not be construed as a glossary of Ammonite terms. It is a glossary of terms in the inscriptions presented in the corpus. Each word in the glossary must be checked against the discussion in the text to determine that the word is, in fact, Ammonite.
Fifth, a few words must be said about the identification of inscriptions as Ammonite. Identifications have been based on the following criteria: provenance, language, onomastics, paleography, iconography, or some combination of these five. Since the first edition of this corpus, the discussion of these criteria has advanced considerably (Lemaire 1993a; Uehlinger 1993b; Hübner and Knauf 1994; Parker 2002). It is still important to note, however, that not all of these criteria are of equal value, nor have their relative values been firmly established. For example, if an inscription is found in Amman, is it to be considered “Ammonite,” even if the language and/or letter-forms are considered to be Phoenician or Aramaic? Or,
alternately, is linguistic identification considered to be of more significance than iconography? And if not, under what conditions may iconography be considered a primary characteristic? Is it possible that the iconography and script of a particular inscription are to be dated to different times (e.g., Lemaire 1990b: 109), and what criteria should be used to determine such a distinction?
Throughout this corpus, I have tried to present the criteria by which scholars have made particular classifications, but I have tried not to evaluate the identifications. To do so would have taken me beyond the scope of a corpus. The following paragraphs, therefore, present an all-too-brief discussion of some of these criteria and a bibliography that might be used for further investigation. I have reserved my opinion of which inscriptions can be classified as Ammonite, with various degrees of probability, for Appendix II (pace Aituv 1995: 73).
C. A. Rollston (2004b) 57–79.
L. J. Mykytiuk (2004) 11, 40–41, 93–152.
L. J. Mykytiuk (2009).
C. A. Rollston (2010b) 1–7, 137–44.
P. Bordreuil (in press).
Although most of the inscriptions in this corpus have no provenance, I have not entered into the important discussion presented in the publications cited above. Nevertheless, Craig Tyson (personal communication) has suggested that it might be helpful if identifications of Hebrew or Phoenician inscriptions could be specified as to their supposed provenance—for example, “Israelite,” “Judean/Judahite,” “Sidonian,” or “Byblian.” This might be possible if the criteria for separating Northern/Southern Hebrew and Sidonian/Byblian Phoenician were universally agreed upon and/or always obvious for a particular inscription. Alas, they are not. Furthermore, since this is a corpus of Ammonite inscriptions, not a corpus of Semitic inscriptions generally, I think it would take the reader too far afield to enter into a discussion of the nuances of criteria for identifying Hebrew and/or Phoenician inscriptions. I have, however, maintained the designations “Israelite” or “Judean/Judahite” and “Sidonian” or “Byblian” when citing their use by other authors.
Ch. Clermont-Ganneau (1898) p. 46.
C. C. Torrey (1921–22) pp. 103–5.
W. F. Albright (1953) pp. 131–36.
P. C. Hammond (1960) pp. 38–41.
G. M. Landes (1961) pp. 81–85.
N. Avigad (1965) no. 1.
H. Tadmor (1965) pp. 233–34.
N. Avigad (1966) no. 2.
G. Garbini (1967a) pp. 94–95.
G. Garbini (1968) pp. 453–54.
F. M. Cross (1969b) pp. 13–19.
F. M. Cross (1969d) p. 23.
S. H. Horn (1969) pp. 2–13.
W. F. Albright (1970) pp. 38–40.
G. Garbini (1970) pp. 249–58.
J. Naveh (1970a) pp. 66–67.
J. Naveh (1970b) pp. 280–81.
J. Naveh (1971) pp. 29, 32.
G. Garbini (1972) pp. 97–108.
R. Kutscher (1972) pp. 27–28.
K. R. Veenhof (1972) pp. 170–79.
P. Bordreuil (1973b) pp. 181–95.
F. M. Cross (1973a) pp. 126–31.
F. M. Cross (1973b) pp. 12–15.
E. Puech and A. Rofé (1973) pp. 531–46.
H. O. Thompson and F. Zayadine (1973)
K. R. Veenhof (1973) pp. 299–301.
F. Zayadine and H. O. Thompson (1973)
P. Bordreuil and A. Lemaire (1974)
F. M. Cross (1974b) pp. 493–94.
G. Garbini (1974) pp. 159–68.
H. O. Thompson and F. Zayadine (1974a)
H. O. Thompson and F. Zayadine (1974b)
F. Zayadine (1974) pp. 129–36.
H. O. Thompson (1974–75) pp. 125–36.
F. M. Cross (1975) pp. 1–22.
P.-E. Dion (1975b) pp. 24–33.
M. Piccirillo (1975) pp. 369–71.
A. van Selms (1975) cols. 5–8.
N. Avigad (1976a) pp. 11–14, 16–19 (English
Section), 9–11,13–15 (Hebrew
J. C. L. Gibson (1976) pp. 432–33.
M. Heltzer (1976) pp. 441–42.
C. Krahmalkov (1976) pp. 55–57.
S. Aituv (1977) pp. 178–89.
N. Avigad (1977b) pp. 63–66.
G. Garbini (1977) pp. 482–83.
O. Loretz (1977) pp. 169–71.
W. H. Shea (1977) pp. 217–22.
R. Zadok (1977) pp. 38–44.
W. J. Fulco (1978) pp. 39–43.
L. G. Herr (1978) pp. 55–78.
W. H. Shea (1978) pp. 107–12.
P. Bordreuil (1979) pp. 313–17.
F. Israel (1979a) pp. 143–59.
F. Israel (1979b) pp. 159–61.
J. Naveh (1979a) pp. 133–36.
V. Sasson (1979) pp. 119–23.
W. H. Shea (1979) pp. 17–24.
J. Naveh (1979–80) pp. 163–71.
R. Coote (1980) p. 93.
F. Israel (1980) pp. 283–87.
Z. Zevit (1980) pp. 21 n. 23, 24 n. 38, 25
M. Baldacci (1981) pp. 363–68.
B. Becking (1981) cols. 273–76.
G. Garbini (1981a) pp. 102–103.
W. H. Shea (1981) pp. 105–10.
J. A. Emerton (1982) pp. 367–77.
D. Sivan (1982) pp. 288, 291.
K. Yassine and P. Bordreuil (1982)
R. L. Hicks (1983) pp. 53–55.
K. P. Jackson (1983b).
A. Lemaire (1983) pp. 19–25.
R. Gottlieb (1984) p. 640.
J. A. Hackett (1984a).
J. A. Hackett (1984b) pp. 59–65.
F. Israel (1984a) pp. 363–87.
A. Lemaire (1984c) pp. 318–20.
W. R. Garr (1985) pp. 205–35.
E. Puech (1985a) pp. 23–24.
P. Bordreuil (1986b) pp. 63–73.
W. R. Garr (1986) pp. 258–59.
F. Israel (1986a) p. 44.
E. Lipiński (1986) cols. 448–50.
A. Lemaire (1987a) pp. 50–53.
J. Wansbrough (1987) pp. 126–27.
G. Garbini (1988) pp. 26–27, 65–67.
U. Hübner (1988) pp. 68–73.
G. A. Rendsburg (1988a) pp. 73–79.
L. G. Herr (1989) p. 373.
F. Israel (1989a) pp. 233–35.
F. Israel (1989b) pp. 91–96.
E. A. Knauf (1990a) pp. 140–41.
G. A. Rendsburg (1990).
A. Lemaire (1991b) pp. 42–46.
U. Hübner and E. A. Knauf (1994) p. 87.
S. Segert (1997) pp. 174–86.
W. E. Aufrecht (1999a) pp. 163–88.
G. A. Rendsburg (2000) pp. 421–22.
S. B. Parker (2002) pp. 46–59.
F. M. Cross (2003a) pp. 70–104.
P.-E. Dion (2003) p. 484–85.
I-S. A. Yun (2005) pp. 741–66.
K. Beyer (2009) pp. 99–100.
F. M. Cross (2009) pp. 29–56.
There have been five more-or-less systematic treatments of the Ammonite language: those of Israel (1979a), Sivan (1982), Jackson (1983b), Garr (1985), and Aufrecht (1999a). These articles, and others that have been less complete, have compared the linguistic data with texts written in other Semitic languages. All indications are that Ammonite belongs to the Canaanite family of languages (Garr 1985: 228, Israel 1986a). (Garbini 1988 has modified his views  regarding the relationship of Ammonite to Arabic.) Many scholars have compared these inscriptions with Hebrew (e.g., of the Bible and inscriptions). Often, they then have vocalized the texts as if they were Hebrew. The close similarity of the two “languages” is then noted, and Ammonite is treated as a kind of corrupt Hebrew, or is thought to “derive” from Hebrew. This raises the question of whether one should speak about the Ammonite “language” or the Ammonite “dialect.”
Unfortunately, it is impossible at this time to resolve this issue. The corpus is neither large enough nor sufficiently varied to provide a meaningful range of phonological, morphological, syntactical, and lexical data. Phonology is especially difficult to reconstruct in ancient texts and even more so in such a small corpus. Therefore, the phonological reconstructions offered in this corpus should be construed neither as an attempt to reproduce the sounds of ancient Ammonite nor to establish a phonological system for Ammonite. In general, I have been guided by the example set by J. A. Hackett in her commentary on the Dayr ʿAlla Plaster Texts (1984a: 22–24): by using the earliest possible form of a word, one usually does not have to choose between later Aramaic and Hebrew vocalizations, thereby prejudging the classification of a dialect. Such a procedure also usually helps to postpone the problem of language versus dialect until more evidence is available.
The only major exception to this procedure in this corpus will occur in my vocalization of /ā/, which I shall represent as [ō] in accordance with the general view that Ammonite partook of the so-called (South) Canaanite vocalic shift (pace Dion 2003 and Yun 2005). This development from a hypothetical reconstruction of proto-Semitic seems mandated by our meager transcriptions of Ammonite names in the contemporaneous vocalized syllabic cuneiform of Mesopotamia (Zadok 1977: 41, Garr 1985: 32, Lipiński 1986: 449).
Much surer ground is present for morphological, syntactical, and lexical data (Israel 1979a, 1984a; Garr 1985; Aufrecht 1999a: 173–77). But caution must be observed here, too, especially with regard to establishing identity on the basis of comparative linguistic criteria. Circular identification must be guarded against as much as possible: the lexicon of inscription A used to identify the language of inscription B as Ammonite; inscription B employed to identify the morphology of inscription C as Ammonite; and inscription C utilized to identify the syntax of inscription A as Ammonite.
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