Comprehensive edition of Aramaic ostraca

Scholarly edition of Aramaic ostraca to shed light on the history of ancient Idumea


© Eisenbrauns

Eisenbrauns has published the first volume of a comprehensive edition of Idumean Aramaic ostraca, established by Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni. The ostraca — that is, broken pieces of pottery — bear inscriptions in Aramaic, a language used by the Jews upon their return from the Babylonian Exile around the 5th century BC. They are mainly business records, shedding precious light on the economic, agricultural and social history of ancient Idumea. This first volume of Textbook of Aramaic Ostraca from Idumea is the beginning of an ambitious work that aims to found a painstakingly researched edition of all Aramaic ostraca from Idumea.

From the publisher:

Some 340 Aramaic ostraca of the Persian and Hellenistic periods have been excavated at 32 sites in Israel, from Yokneam in the north to Eilat in the south, with Arad and Beersheba being the main contributory sites. By far, however, the largest cache of texts is what has come to be known as “the Idumean ostraca.” These did not come from formal excavations but began to appear on the antiquities market in 1991. Since then, some 2,000 ostraca have reached 9 museums and libraries and 21 private collections. Of these, the majority are still not formally published, and in this volume (and those to follow), Bezalel Porten undertakes to provide a comprehensive edition of all these texts, in many cases as an editio princeps. Porten, with the expert epigraphic assistance of Ada Yardeni and hand-copies by her as well, here provides the first volume of texts, organized by “dossier” based on the primary personage cited in the text. Color photographs (where available), ceramic descriptions, hand-copies, transcription, translation, and commentary are provided for each text, along with figures and tables, and introductions and summaries of each dossier. An included CD contains a catalogue of all the texts and three color key-word-in-context concordances, for words, personal names, and months for the entire corpus. This publication will become the primary resource for information on these texts.