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Qumran Aramaic

(239 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] QA (= Hasmonaic) is the name given to the Aramaic in which the texts found in Qumran were written (1st cent. BC to 2nd cent. AD), which, however, are not quite uniform in their language. QA has the characteristics of a standardized literary language (which also reappears later in Aramaic Bible translations, such as Targum Onqelos, Targum Jonathan: note the pronouns and infinitives). Yet it also still had linguistic features based on Official Aramaic and also the Aramaic of the Bib…

Aḥiram

(63 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] King of Byblus ( c. 10th cent. BC), Phoenician for ‘my brother is exalted’. His coffin, decorated with reliefs of tribute scenes, commissioned by his son Ittobaal. It is significant from the point of view of art history. The inscription on the coffin lid is early evidence of the Phoenician  alphabet. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography E. Lipiński, s. v. A., DCPP 11.

Edom­ite

(67 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Name of the language used by the residents of the country of  Edom ( Idumaea) south-east of the Dead Sea. Linguistically, E. should be placed between  Phoenician and  Hebrew. It is recorded in only a few inscriptions on ostraca and seals (7th/6th cents. BC).  Bersabe;  Canaanite Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1985 L. Herr, The Scripts of Ancient Northwestsemitic Seals, 1978.

Hasai(ti)c

(63 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] early north-Arabic dialect ( Arabic). Its inscriptions, written in a slightly modified ancient south-Arabic  alphabet, are predominantly grave inscriptions, amongst them two Hasaitic-Aramaic  bilingual inscriptions from north-eastern Saudi Arabia ( c. between 5th and 2nd cents. BC).  Ancient south-Arabic;  Semitic languages Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. W. Müller, Das Altarab. und das klass. Arabisch, Hasaitisch, in: W.-D. Fischer (ed.), Grundriß der arab. Philol., 1982, 25-26.

Semites

(187 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] The term S., which was not introduced into scholarship until the 18th cent.,  goes back to Sem, the son of Noah in the 'Table of Nations' (Gn 10,21-31). Noah's sons named therein are regarded today as the eponymous heroes of various Semitic languages. In modern scholarship, the term S. is limited to linguistics; traditionally, scholarship has assumed a group of Semitic languages or a Semito-Hamitic language family (also known as Afro-Asiatic). Due to the unjustified expansion of t…

Syriac

(358 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic dialect from the geographical surroundings of Edessa [2], modern Urfa, which gave rise to the later Syriac literary language. Lexically, Syriac belongs to Central Aramaic just as the Aramaic of the Babylonian Targumim (Targum Onqelos and Jonathan), but already has Northeastern Aramaic features in its phonetics, morphology and syntax. The Early Syriac inscriptions (AD 6 - 3rd cent. AD), written in Estrangelā script, still have a strongly standardised Central Aramaic charact…

Punic

(258 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] is the later form of Phoenician found in the Phoenician colonies of North Africa, esp. Carthage, its far-flung trading centres on Malta, Sicily and Sardinia, in Italy, southern France, Spain, and - disseminated by trade - throughout almost the entire Mediterranean region. Initially, P. was indistinguishable in writing from Phoenician, but from approx. the 5th cent. BC, the first variant written forms begin to appear. The Semitic pharyngeal and laryngeal consonants were hardly used…

Am­mon­ite

(76 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Canaanite dialect very similar to  Phoenician and used by the Ammonites in the region around Rabbath Ammon. There is very little written evidence c. 9th-7th cents. BC): citadel inscriptions from Amman, writing on a receptacle (Tell Siran bottle) and approximately 150 stamping seals. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography W. R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestina, 1000-586 B.C.E., 1985 L. Herr, The Scripts of Ancient Northwest Semitic Seals, 1978 K. P. Jackson, The Ammonite Language of the Iron Age, 1983.

Ugaritic

(259 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Term for a Semitic language, named after Ugarit, an important city and centre of the northern Syrian city state of the same name. The city of Ugarit was only discovered in 1928. Other than in Ugarit, texts written in Ugaritic have been found in Mīnā al-Baiḍā (the port of Ugarit), Ras Ibn Hāni and sporadically in other places, including Cyprus. Ugaritic represents an independent branch of the Semitic language family. Its precise classification is disputed by scholars of the Sem…

Arabic

(361 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] In contrast to  Ancient Southern Arabian, this is in fact Northern Arabic; it belongs to the northern branch of the Semitic languages. (Northern) Arabic personal names are found in Assyrian cuneiform sources from the 9th cent. onwards, with contemporaneous seals and short inscriptions in proto-Arabic script. Diverse early Northern Arabic dialects are written in modified Ancient Southern Arabian scripts (graffiti and tomb monument inscriptions), so  Thamudic (6th cent. BC - 4th cen…

Moabite

(80 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Language of the inhabitants of Moab, a country to the south of the Dead Sea; it is very similar to Hebrew. Moabite is recorded on seal inscriptions and on a 34-line inscription of King Meša of Moab ( c. 850 BC), which was found in the vicinity of Diban (KAI 181). Canaanite; Semitic languages Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography A. Dearman (ed.), Studies in the Mesha Inscription and Moab, 1989  W.R. Garr, Dialect Geography of Syria-Palestine, 1000-586 BCE, 1985.

Semitic languages

(679 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] In 1781, A.L. Schloezer introduced this term for the languages which were associated with the sons of Sem/Shem (Gn 10:21-31; Semites) and which had a common origin with the so-called Hamitic languages of Africa. The term Hamito-Semitic is used interchangeably with Afro-Asiatic. Within the Hamito-Semitic languages, Akkadian, or rather Eblaite (mid-3rd millennium BC), is attested earliest in writing; Aramaic has the longest continuous written tradition; and modern Arabic is most widely spoken. In the literature, the division of the Semitic languages rem…

Ethiopian

(170 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Geez, the classical language of Ethiopia, actually belongs to the southern branch of Semitic languages. It was spoken by the tribes Agazjan and Ḥabas̆āt, which had migrated into Abyssinia from South Arabia, founded the kingdom of  Axum and in the middle of the 4th cent. AD were converted to Christianity by missionaries. The earliest evidence is stone inscriptions (Axum inscriptions, Maṭara obelisk 4th cent. AD). From the 9th cent. until the present Geez has been used only as a literary and church language. Related Semitic languages are Tigri…

Afro-Asiatic

(140 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Afro-Asian is a new linguistic term identical to the traditional term Hamito-Semitic. It covers all the major languages related to such language families as  (Ancient) Egyptian, Berber, Cushitic,  Semitic, Chadic (various subfamilies with more than 125 separate languages) and - often debated - Omotic. Overall, it includes more than 200 separate languages, many of them without writing, that can be traced over a period of almost 5,000 years. Reconstructing the proto-Afro-Asiatic lan…

Square script

(182 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] ( ketāḇ merubbā) is the term for the style of script in which Jewish Hebrew and Aramaic texts are written. It developed from the Aramaic square script style (in the Babylonian Talmud ketāḇ aššūrī, i.e. Assyrian script), which according to the Babylonian Talmud (Aboda Zara 10a) was brought from Babylonian captivity to Palestine by Jews in the post-Exilic period, whereas the Samaritan style developed from the palaeo-Hebraic script. The earliest documents extant in square script are fragments of the Biblical books …

Ešmūn

(78 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Old Phoenician deity, probably a  healing deity (> šmn, ‘Oil’), interpreted by the Greeks as  Asclepius and also as  Apollo. An important sanctuary of the cult of Esmun, which was widespread around the Mediterranean, was situated near Ṣidon ( Bustān aš-Šaiḫ). In Tyrus, Esmun was associated with  Melqart. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography 1 E. Lipiński, s.v. E., DCPP, 158-160 2 R. Stucky, Die Skulpturen aus dem E.-Heiligtum bei Sidon: griech., röm., kypr. und phönik. Statuen vom 6. Jh. v.-3. Jh. n. Chr., 1993.

Official Aramaic

(393 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] OA (Egyptian Aramaic, standard literary Aramaic) was the language of administration and correspondence ( lingua franca) of the Achaemenid Empire from the time of Cyrus [2] II (6th-3rd cent. BC). OA does not represent a homogeneous Aramaic dialect but shows dialect characteristics that are  in parts highly divergent. OA was widespread throughout the whole of the Near East and Egypt and was used for a variety of textual genres. In a cursive writing (square script), OA is encountered on papyri and …

Thamudic

(115 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Refers not only to an Early North Arabian dialect that is recorded in graffiti in a modified Ancient South Arabian script (6th cent. BC to 4th cent. AD) throughout the Arabian peninsula, but, according to the most recent state of scholarship, to various individual dialects, namely Taymanic (Early Thamudic A) and Hismaic (Early Thamudic E) and southern Thamudic B, C, D. Hence it cannot be associated with the Arab Θαμυδῖται/ Thamydȋtai tribe alone. Ancient Southern Arabian; Arabic Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bibliography 1 M. C. A. MacDonald, Reflections…

Aramaic

(340 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Derives from the collective ethnic term for the  Arameans and belongs with  Canaanite to the north-western branch of the Semitic languages. For its system of writing, Aramaic adopted the Phoenician 22-character  alphabet. The most ancient form of the language is Old Aramaic (10th-8th cents. BC) found in inscriptions in North Mesopotamia and Syria (Tell Feḫerije [1], Arslantaš, with Aramaic-Assyrian bilingual inscriptions and Aramaic-Assyrian-Luwian hieroglyph trilingual inscriptio…

Phoenician

(204 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] was the language of the Phoenicians, and together with its later divergent form, Punic, it formed a unity within the Canaanite languages. Phoenician diversified into individual dialects which can only partly be classified according to their geographical areas (Byblus, Zincirli, Cyprus). The alphabet of 22 characters developed from proto-Canaanite. Initially, only consonants were written in its script, which deviated slightly from Aramaic. Written Phoenician sources (from the 13th/…
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