Iranica Antiqua 47: More on the Hebrew inscription on Ardashir’s Tunic

Relief of Ardashir I’s Investiture at Naqsh-i Rustam

The latest Iranica Antiqua has just been published online.  The Talmud Blog generally does not announce the publication of every journal from the field of Iranian Studies (or Late Antiquity, Early Christianity, etc etc), even though this might be of use to Talmudists.  But particularly in light of our previous treatment of the last Iranica Antiqua volume, the current issue deserves mention.  In this issue, T. Kwasman offers readings of the Hebrew graffiti inscribed on Ardashir’s tunic at Naqsh-i Rustam that differ significantly from those previously suggested on this blog by Shaul Shaked.  Now Shaked’s readings were extremely tentative, particularly given the fact that he was working from a poor photograph of the graffiti and that it was not for a scientific publication. But a number of Shaked’s point are worthy of serious consideration, and it is a shame that Kwasman did not mention them. Apparently, he does not count himself among the hundreds of regular readers of this blog (or 611 readers of that post); he did not discover Shaked’s readings through a Google search; or more likely, current academic discourse has yet figure out a way to include discussions from sources like blogs in scientific journal articles.

In any case, here is the way Kwasman read the graffiti (I was unable to provide some of the markings due to the limitations of WordPress):

A

1. [ז]כר[י]ה שמואל הכהן

2. בן | זכרי[ה]

B

1.  X X רברבה חסן בן סהל בן חסן מן אד\ר

2.                        שנת

3.                       אל שד{ג} סמן

4.                           טוב

5.                         מרחשון

Some of the major differences in Kwasman’s rendition include his adoption of a different calendar that results in a 1741 CE  as opposed to a 992 CE dating; his reading מן אד\ר rather than Shaked’s מזאר (Persian; ‘visit’); and the month מרחשון as opposed to Shaked’s מן חלון (from Hulwan). Kwasman seems to acknowledge the difficulty of the opening term רברבה, which Shaked rather brilliantly suggested should be jointed to the prior characters and read as הזר ברכה (a thousand – Persian hazar – blessings) – while still acknowledging the problematic final ב as opposed to כ.  I would have loved to see some imaginative treatment of what it might mean for a Jewish Persian to visit Naqsh-i Rustam and carve his name on Ardashir’s tunic. Oh well, I suppose there’s little place for that in philological articles.

In the same issue, I also published an article that was written during the hot Israeli summer of 2010.  It patiently (and rather boringly) attempts to date the named authorities in Zoroastrian Middle Persian writings on the basis of some stray historical references; rather problematic epigraphical data, and charting teacher-student relationships.  It is interesting that to my knowledge, it is the first full treatment of the issue, and it took a foolhardy Talmudist like myself, informed by the way things are done in Rabbinics, to attempt it.

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One response to “Iranica Antiqua 47: More on the Hebrew inscription on Ardashir’s Tunic

  1. Pingback: Die Hebräische Inschrift auf Ardaschirs Tunika | Gesellschaft für das Geistesleben Persiens·

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