Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The New Zinjirli Inscription

The new Zinjirli inscription is featured in a New York Times article, along with a good (but not quite clear enough) picture. I can make out a few phrases, but the resolution is not great enough for my eyes to transliterate the whole thing.

The picture features a man, probably Kittamuwa, the sponsor of the stele, sitting with a TV remote in one hand and a turkey drumstick in the other. Just kidding! I surmise that he is actually holding a pomegranate and some other foodstuff.

A partial translation from Dennis Pardee, with whatever bits of Samalian I can glean:

I Kuttamuwa, servant of [the king] Panamuwa (אנכ כתמו עבד פנמו), am the one who oversaw the production of this stele for myself while still living. I placed it (ושמת ותה) in an eternal chamber [?] and established a feast (חגג) at this chamber (יד זנ): a bull for [the god] Hadad (שור להדד), a ram for [the god] Shamash (יבל לשמש) and a ram for my soul that is in this stele (ויבל לנבשי זי
בנצב זנ).

Interesting to note is another occurrence of the definite object marker wt. The inscription may also throw light on the occurrence of ybl in the notoriously obscure line 21 in the Panamuwa inscription, which now seems to require interpretation as referring to sacrifice.

A few other phrases are readable; but why not wait for Pardee's definite treatment this weekend? I'm looking forward to it.

UPDATE (11/30/08): Pardee's presentation in Boston was a thorough and competent survey of the inscription. The word for "chamber" is syr or syd, not yd. I will deal with other aspects of the inscription at another time. I will further note that the text will no doubt inaugurate a discussion concerning aspects of the West Semitic cult of the dead due to the expression "my soul that is in this stele." As one scholar noted in Boston, this has to be connected to the use of the term nephesh for tombs at a much later time. It is also possible that the Kuttamuwa stele may have some relation to the so-called baityloi, also known from a later period, which were considered to house spirits or other numina; Philo of Byblos called them lithoi empsychoi, "stones with souls." Let the games begin.


Anonymous said...

The remote and turkey drumstick was hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

Charles Ellwood Jones said...

Try this image
and click on it again to embiggen it.