venerdì 4 ottobre 2013

Rabbu kāhinīma, Ugarit




Bronze axe RS 1.051 (=KTU 6.6) found, together with more than 70 other bronze objects, in the archive of the “great priest’s house”. 14-12th century BC.(From: Mnamon - Ancient Writing Systems in the Mediterranean)

Transcription and vocalization:
rb khnm
/rabbu kāhinīma/

Translation: Great priest

The first cuneiform alphabetic texts of Ugarit, were discovered in 1929 and the code was cracked in 1931.  
Virolleaud Charles. Le déchiffrement des tablettes alphabétiques de Ras-Shamra . In: Syria. Tome 12 fascicule 1, 1931. pp. 15- 23. 



The standard ugaritic alphabet as compared with hebrew. Note that, in the latter (as well as in phoenician alphabet), some letters became fused e.g. shin and thanna (ug. 13th and  25th letters, are fused into shin, the 21st letter of semitic alphabets).
Throughout texts, the standard ugaritic letters experience variations, in some cases to a considerable extent. See below some examples. 

Figure taken from: Wayne T. Pitard, The Shape of the ʿAyin in the Ugaritic Script
Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 1992,  51: 261-279

The clay tablets of Ugarit in the alphabetic code have been burnt and preserved by the great fire occurring around 1365 a.C.., in the layer comprised between this destruction level and the following one around 1200 a.C. (late bronze age collapse). A dramatic letter from Abi-Milki king of Tyre to the pharaoh (Amarna letter nr. EA#151) states: "The king of the land of Danuna is dead, and his brother hath become king in his stead, and there is peace in his land. One  half of the city Ugarit hath been burnt with fire and is destroyed" (The Tell el-Amarna tablets : in the British Museum; with autotype facsimiles (1892), British Museum. Dept. of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities,  London, Longmans pub. ). 
The fire is now thought to have been caused by an earthquake that also impacted other canaanite cities such as Jericho, Megiddo, Beit Mirsin (Mohamed Reda Sbeinati (1), Ryad Darawcheh (1) and Mikhail Mouty The historical earthquakes of Syria: an analysis of large and moderate earthquakes from 1365 B.C. to 1900 A.D., ANNALS OF GEOPHYSICS, VOL. 48, N. 3, June 2005)

From: Soldt, W. H. van. "Ugarit: A Second-Millennium Kingdom on the Mediterranean Coast." In Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, vol. 2, edited by Jack M. Sasson, pp. 1255–66. New York: Scribner, 1995

"Foreign languages written in cuneiform at Ugarit include Akkadian, Hittite, Hurrian, and Cypro-Minoan. But most important is the local alphabetic script that records the native Semitic language "Ugaritic." From evidence at other sites, it is certain that most areas of the Levant used a variety of alphabetic scripts at this time. The Ugaritic examples survive because the writing was on clay using cuneiform signs, rather than drawn on hide, wood, or papyrus. While most of the texts are administrative, legal, and economic, there are also a large number of literary texts with close parallels to some of the poetry found in the Hebrew Bible."