Linear A Ivory Comb Text from Lachish Israel (1400 BCE)

Map showing the major archaeological findings at Lachish. The red star shows the find location of the ivory comb. (from (Vainstub and all 2022)

Archeology of Text

(November 21, 2022) Lachish was a major city located 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. It was occupied during the Pottery Neolithic (5500–4500 B.C.E.), Chalcolithic (4500–3300 B.C.E.), and early Bronze Age (3300–3000 B.C.E.). It slowly grew into a major city during the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1650 BCE) only to be destroyed at the end of that period. It was resettled during the Late Bronze Age (1550-1130 BCE), and Persian/Hellenistic periods (538–37 B.C.E.). The comb text dates to the destruction of the Middle Bronze City when it became part of the destruction debris. Later it was mixed in with later trash and deposited in a pit outside of a Judean palace. The ivory comb was found in June/July 2016 during the 4th season of an archaeological excavation led by Yosef Garfinkel. (Vainstub and all 2022). The comb was found within a meter of the bottom of the trash pit which had debris dating as late as 700 BCE so archaeology cannot be used to date it. The very shallowly incised inscription was noticed  in December 2021 by Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu.

Some kind of shrine called the Fosse Temple was constructed in three major phases during the late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BCE, level VII). It was built within a filled-in moat at the northwest corner of the mound outside the city.

The city was destroyed around 1200 BCE during the Bronze Age collapse. The city which appeared after that was an Egyptian influenced city. During this time the Acropolis temple was built in the Egyptian architectural style. A large bronze shoe for the city’s gate socket bore the cartouche of Pharaoh Ramesses III (1182–1151 B.C.E.). This Egyptian influenced city was destroyed around 1130 BCE apparently by the Philistines. It then lay abandoned for two centuries. (The Solar Shrine is  Zoroastrain dating to the Persian empire period)

References

Daniel Vainstub, Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Michael G. Hasel, Katherine M. Hesler, Miriam Lavi, Rivka Rabinovich, Yuval Goren and Yosef Garfinkel (2022). A Canaanite’s Wish to Eradicate Lice on an Inscribed Ivory Comb from Lachish. Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology 2: 76–119. ISSN: 2788-8819; https://doi.org/10.52486/01.00002.4; https://jjar.huji.Also online at: https://www.academia.edu/88746893/Daniel_Vainstub_Madeleine_Mumcuoglu_Michael_G_Hasel_Katherine_M_Hesler_Miriam_Lavi_Rivka_Rabinovich_Yuval_Goren_and_Yosef_Garfinkel_A_Canaanites_Wish_to_Eradicate_Lice_on_an_Inscribed_Ivory_Comb_from_Lachish
Bronze Age letter chart showing their Akkadian origin page 1

Translation Resources Used

All texts translated to the scholar's standard.

Lexicon Used

Olmsted, D.D (January 1, 2022) Mediterranean Akkadian Lexicon 3rd Edition – 2022. DOI Permanent URL:   http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/nbb6-wg16. Online at: https://www.academia.edu/66851810/Mediterranean_Akkadian_Lexicon_3rd_Edition_2022

Letter Chart Used

Bronze Age Letters and Phonetic Signs

Archival Publication

Olmsted, D.D. (November 20, 2022) Lachish Ivory Comb Text Translation From Minoan Linear A (1650 BCE). Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.17613/7m4t-8h09

Also online at: https://www.academia.edu/91255305/Lachish_Ivory_Comb_Text_Translation_From_Minoan_Linear_A_1650_BCE

Minoan Linear A Ivory Comb Text from Lachish Israel (1400 BCE)

(November 21, 2022)

Text in Akkadian Linear A

(Read right to left)
  1. [                     ] Gi
  2. Q AKu [ 2 ]P Ḫi          -  (P has no vertical handle, Ḫi is more image based than normal for this time and likely is the missing Phaistos Disk version)
  3. ŠiGi ṢMa Q  Ki Q‘ N    -  (notice the small vertical line on the Ṣ which is a merger of Linear A styles)

Text Translated into English

  1. ……. emotional-energy
  2. Life-threads, emotion-owls [2 unreadable words ] Hu-powers
  3. Conflict is dehydrating the threads due to envy of the Revealer (Yahu)

Shin (Ṣ) and Sade (Š) sounds in Alphabetic Akkadian are reversed from Hebrew, a fact which seems to be reflected in the Shibboleth story of Judges 12:6.

Comment


  1. The only word remaining in this line indicates the text is talking about magical emotional energy. Feelings are what was transmitted to the divine realm.
  2. Hu is the connective masculine life power who was represented by the sun. At a deeper level he represented the life network which transmitted life powers (fertility fluids) to the earth from the divine realm. Emotion owls are the mechanism in which emotion magic affects this life network (life-threads). This line is missing its verb so we do not know what sort of interaction is happening.
  3. The root cause of some drought are the feelings of envy in the population which is driving conflict. The target of this envy or anger is Yahu to when triggered by the fertility fluids reveals and manifests the invisible life-forms. A common epithet for Yahu is "Revealer." The "power of Yahu" is "Yahweh."

References

Daniel Vainstub, Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Michael G. Hasel, Katherine M. Hesler, Miriam Lavi, Rivka Rabinovich, Yuval Goren and Yosef Garfinkel (2022). A Canaanite’s Wish to Eradicate Lice on an Inscribed Ivory Comb from Lachish. Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology 2: 76–119. ISSN: 2788-8819; https://doi.org/10.52486/01.00002.4; https://jjar.huji.Also online at: https://www.academia.edu/88746893/Daniel_Vainstub_Madeleine_Mumcuoglu_Michael_G_Hasel_Katherine_M_Hesler_Miriam_Lavi_Rivka_Rabinovich_Yuval_Goren_and_Yosef_Garfinkel_A_Canaanites_Wish_to_Eradicate_Lice_on_an_Inscribed_Ivory_Comb_from_Lachish

Drawing of Comb Signs by Archaeological Team

The archaeological team paper starts the text in the lower right as shown in their drawing above.  Additionally, they turned the text upside down for lines 2 and 3. This flipping and unusual starting position is the first clue that their translation is incorrect. The following is their imaginative letter assignments based upon the Proto-Canaanite letter style of Serabit el-Khadim.
  1. yod (I or Y) taw (T) shin (Š) het (Ḫ) teth (Ṭ) lamed (L) qop (Q) mem (M)
  2. lamed (L) samak (S) ayin (‘) [ ] [ ] zayin (Z) qop (Q)
  3. taw (T)

The Words Used in Their Translation


  1. Ytš - claimed to be the Hebrew root ntš meaning “to root out.” Tries to get around the different spelling by claiming this root is grammatically modified. Proper word roots are invariant in regards to grammatical constructions which is why they are called roots.
  2. Ḥṭ - authors admit this word in not Hebrew but find a close parallel in rabbinic literature from Roman times referring to a certain type of animal tooth.
  3. D - meaning “this” in Arabic
  4. L - claims this letter is silent only acting to introduce a direct object
  5. Qml - meaning “lice” in Arabic
  6. Śʿ[r] - claims it means “hair” in all Semitic languages (not true)
  7. Zqt - claims it means “chin” in Akkadian. It actually means “fish.”

Literal Translation Using Their Words

(words are never split between line in accurately translated archaeological texts)
  1. Root out tooth li-
  2. -ce hair chi-
  3. -n

From this they imagine the final translation to be:
  • “And he sent to her a comb that kills lice”

References

Daniel Vainstub, Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Michael G. Hasel, Katherine M. Hesler, Miriam Lavi, Rivka Rabinovich, Yuval Goren and Yosef Garfinkel (2022). A Canaanite’s Wish to Eradicate Lice on an Inscribed Ivory Comb from Lachish. Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology 2: 76–119. ISSN: 2788-8819; https://doi.org/10.52486/01.00002.4; https://jjar.huji.Also online at: https://www.academia.edu/88746893/Daniel_Vainstub_Madeleine_Mumcuoglu_Michael_G_Hasel_Katherine_M_Hesler_Miriam_Lavi_Rivka_Rabinovich_Yuval_Goren_and_Yosef_Garfinkel_A_Canaanites_Wish_to_Eradicate_Lice_on_an_Inscribed_Ivory_Comb_from_Lachish

Lachish bronze dagger with letters. This has been dated to between 1600 and 1500 BCE. Linear A letters are (right to left):

Akkadian

In English

This is on display at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. Online at: https://www.imj.org.il/en/collections/395439-0