The Monkey and the Scarab

5 04 2008

As part of the dissertation research process I worked on finding all references to the Wimmer/Seton Hall Safut excavations, any mentions of the glacis, and any descriptions of the site from the early explorers. I think that I have covered all my bases in these areas, but there are always little gems yet to be discovered.

Two of the random discoveries I made are quite interesting. The first is a terracotta monkey figurine, thought to represent the Egyptian deity Thoth.

clay figurine of the Egyptian god Thoth

Located in the Amman Citadel Museum, it is dated by Schroer and Eggler to 1000-800 BCE. Kletter writing about another clay monkey figurine from Beth Shemesh, likens the one from Safut to a 7th century BCE monkey from Tell Keisan (Kletter, Raz. “A Monkey Figurine from Tel Beth Shemesh.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology 21 2 (2002): 147–152). This is the only parallel mentioned and I haven’t been able to find a picture of the Keisan monkey figurine. If anyone has any suggestions for where to look or of other parallels, it would be greatly appreciated.

The other object is a scaraboid first mentioned by Bordreuil and Lemaire (“Nouveaux Sceaux Hebreux, Arameens, et Ammonites.” Semitica 26 (1976): 45-63) as dating to the 8th or 7th cent. BCE.

to shlm son of nhm

The inscription reads “to shlm son of nhm”, both of which are theophoric personal names also found in Hebrew, Phoenician, and Aramaic. The two names are separated by a double line drawing, typical of other Ammonite seals from the late 8th-7th cent. BCE. The inscription is paleographically similar to the Siloam Tunnel Inscription, which dates to the very end of the 8th cent. BCE. Weippert believes that the paleographic evidence indicated that the Israelites definitely settled at the site in this period (“Ein Siegel vom Tell Safut.” ZDPV 95:2 (1979): 173-177). The scaraboid is also mentioned in Avigad and Sass’ Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals as being formerly from the Altman collection, but that the current location is unknown.



One response

6 04 2008

God’s blessings on your trip; this is fascinating – will look forward to following your process! Aunt Denise

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