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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 …

Aḥiqar

(195 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic name of the legendary keeper of the seal who served the Assyrian kings  Sanherib and  Asarhaddon (704-669 BC), mentioned in the Apocryphon Tob 1,21 f. (2,10; 11,17; 14,10, Ἀχιάχαρος; Achiácharos). Assyrian sources are not available. A late Babylonian cuneiform script ((2nd cent. BC) calls an Aba-enlil-dari by the Aramaic name of Ahuaqār [1. 215-218]. A. is the lead character of a biographical novel written in Official Aramaic on papyri (5th century BC) from  Elephantine. It contains wisdom sayings wr…

Alphabet

(5,280 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) | Wachter, Rudolf (Basle)
[German version] I. Ancient Middle Eastern origins The early Semitic alphabet seems to have developed in parallel lines from various early stages of the proto-Canaanite language: ancient Hebrew (Gezer, Lachic, Shechem, Izbet Ṣarṭah in Palestine 17th-12th cents. BC) and proto-Sinaitic (Serabit el-Ḫadem c. 15th cent. BC). As its counterpart, cuneiform scripts from Ugarit (14th-13th cents. BC), Bet Shemesh/Palestine, Tell Nebi Mend/Syria and Sarepta/Phoenicia (13th-12th cents. BC) have also been found. The alphabet from these scripts ranged from between 27 and 30 characters. T…

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…

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…

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.

Canaanite

(95 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Traditional general term for a dialect group of north-west Semitic, spoken and written in Syria, Palestine and in the Mediterranean ( c. 10th cent. BC to today; with proto-Canaanite precursors). Canaanite includes  Phoenician, the closely related  Ammonite,  Punic as a late further development of Phoenician,  Edomite as a link between Phoenician and  Hebrew (the Canaanite dialect passed down best and longest) and  Moabite, which is close to Hebrew. The existence of additional local dialects is still a matter of contention. Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen) Bi…

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-Pale…

Ḥatra

(298 words)

Author(s): Hauser, Stefan R. (Berlin) | Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] [1] Trading centre in north Mesopotamia…

Nabataean

(206 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Aramaic written language of an Arabic-speaking tribe, the Nabataeans (Arabic onomastikon). Nabataean belongs to the west-central branch of Aramaic, and is preserved in memorial, tomb, votive and building inscriptions, graffiti, coin legends and one charm, all dating fro…

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 Bible. QA shows the earliest indication for the development of the subsequent Western Aramaic dialects, especially the Christian-Palestinian Aramaic (Palestinian-Aramaic), for example in orthography (tendency towards plene spelling) and morphology. QA is still almost entirely free of Greek and Latin words, but the Hebrew substrate, which subsequently became a characteristic feature of Western Aramaic, is already becoming more obvious in loan words and…

Ancient Southern Arabian

(255 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] (ASA) Earlier known as Himyaritic after the tribe of the Ḥimyar ( Homeritae), this belongs with Ethiopian to the southern branch of the Semitic languages, but is not the same as (Northern) Arabian. There is evidence of four main dialects: c. 9th cent. BC to 6th cent. AD: Ḥadramautian, Minaean, Qataban and Sabaean, named after the centres of power of the same names. The dialects are divided i…

Hebrew

(247 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] The name of the Hebrew language is derived from the nomen gentile, also called ‘Hebrew’. This language belongs to the  Canaanite branch of Semitic languages. The 22 symbols of the epigraphical Old Hebrew alphabet developed from the proto-Canaanite  alphabet. The later Hebrew  square script was used only as a book hand. Hebrew developed over several linguistic stages, of which spoken Classical Hebrew, also defined as Old Hebrew, is preserved in inscriptions (10th-6th …

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…

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.

Samaritan

(200 words)

Author(s): Müller-Kessler, Christa (Emskirchen)
[German version] Special form of Hebrew, in which the Samaritans (Samaria) wrote the Pentateuch and a revised version of the book of Joshua. The Samaritan Pentateuch, which is distinguished from the Masoretic Hebrew text by orthographic variants and religiously based textual changes, was earlier occasionally considered to represent a more original version; yet proto-Samaritan Hebrew text versions have been found in Qumran. The texts f…

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.

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 …

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 ostraka that were mostly found in Egypt (Syene, Elephantine/Iēb, Hermopolis Magna, Saqqara…

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…
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