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The Serabit Expedition of 1930: IV. The Protosinaitic Inscriptions

  • Romain F. Butin

The present article was begun with the limited purpose of making known the new inscriptions discovered by the Harvard-Catholic University Joint Expedition to Serabit in the spring of 1930. In the course of this study, I perceived that some signs doubtful in the inscriptions already published were made clear by the new slabs, and I decided to go over the entire field again.

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1 Researches in Sinai, London, 1906.

2 ‘Die Vokallosigkeit des phönizischen Alphabets,’ in Zeitschrift für Aegyptische Sprache, 1916.

3 ‘The Egyptian Origin of the Semitic Alphabet,’ in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, III, 1917.

4 ‘The Origin of the Semitic Alphabet,’ in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, III, 1917.

5 ‘Der Ursprung des Alphabets,’ in Nachrichten, Göttingen Academy, Geschäftliche Mitteilungen, 1916, pp. 88–161; ‘Die Neuentdeckte Sinai-Schrift und die Entstehung der semitischen Schrift,’ ibid., 1917, pp. 437–475; ‘Die wissenschaftliche Bedeutung des Petrie'schen Sinaifunde,’ in Zeitschrift der deutsehen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1926, pp. 84 ff.

6 Die Kenitischen Weihinschriften der Hyksoszeit, Freiburg i. B., 1919.

7 ‘Les plus vieilles inscriptions Cananéennes,’ in Revue Archéologique, Série V, XIV, 1921, pp. 49 ff.

8 Althebräische Inschriften vom Sinai, Hannover, 1923; ‘Hjatsepsu und die Sinai-schriftdenkmäler,’ in Zeitschrift der deutsehen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1926, pp. 137 ff.; Die Lösung des Sinaischriftproblems: die altthamudische Schrift, Münster i. W., 1926.

9 ‘The Origin and Development of the Alphabet,’ in American Journal of Archaeology, 1927, pp. 311 ff.

10 ‘Di una iscrizione palaeoebraica Sinaitica del Museo Egiziano del Cairo,’ in Rivista degli Studi Orientali, 1925, pp. 593 ff.; ‘Yahu, Sapdu e una presunta iscrizione di Mose,’ in Giornale della Società Asiatica Italiana, New Series, I, pp. 1 ff.

11 ‘Die angeblichen Inschriften vom Sinai,’ in Biblica, 1925, pp. 26 ff., 156 ff.

12 W. M. Flinders Petrie, Researches in Sinai, 1906, p. 61; Grimme, Die altsinaitischen Buchstabeninschriften, p. 10.

13 Gardiner, A. H., ‘The Egyptian Origin of the Semitic Alphabet,’ in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, III, 1917, p. 14.

14 Of course this does not refer to No. 873, which is from a different hand and seems to be later; it does not form part of the protosinaitic series.

15 Some have taken this letter to be lamed, but the stem of lamed is always outside the axis of the crook, or circle, and this is not the case here.

16 I refer to the hieroglyphic signs according to the Egyptian Grammar of Gardiner, pp. 482 ff.

17 See Albright in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 89, p. 7.

18 Die Kenitischen Weihinschriften, p. 102.

19 Proceedings of the Society for Biblical Archaeology, 1910, p. 220.

20 Things have moved rapidly in the decipherment of the inscriptions of Ras Shamra. As soon as the text was made known by Virolleaud in Syria, vol. X, pp. 304–310, Hans Bauer and Father Dhorme, at first independently but later with exchange of views, began to study them and eventually furnished a system acceptable to scholars. See H. Bauer, in Das Unterhaltungsblatt, June 4, 1930; in Forschungen and Fortschritte, August 20, 1930; and especially ‘Entzifferung der Keilschrifttafeln von Ras Shamra’; Dhorme, in Revue Biblique, October 1930 and April 1931. A résumé of the work is given by Dhorme in Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, XI, pp. 1 ff. On the excavations at Ras Shamra, see Schaeffer in Syria, X, pp. 185 ff., and in National Geographic Magazine, October 1930, pp. 476 ff. A study of the relations of the alphabet of Ras Shamra to the Sinaitic inscriptions is contributed by Olmstead, A. T. to Sprengling's, M.The Alphabet, its Rise and Development from the Sinai Inscriptions, Chicago, 1931.

21 It was the good fortune of the present writer to examine the original in the Museum of Beyrout, and to secure a good photograph from M. Dunand himself, as well as a hand tracing by Father Barrois. More recently, Father Mallon found new signs on various objects discovered at Teleilat Ghassul, but these have not yet been deciphered, and do not seem to be alphabetic; see ‘Les Fouilles de l'Institut Biblique Pontifical dans la vallée du Jourdain,’ in Biblica, 1931, pp. 257 ff.

22 See our ‘Serabit Inscriptions,’ pp. 25 ff., where references to Sethe's contributions are given. To Gardiner and Sethe more than anyone else we owe our ideas concerning the relations of the protosinaitic script to Egypt.

23 Bauer, and partly Jean, still doubt the principle of acrophony.

24 Neuentdeckte Sinai-Schrift, pp. 454 f.

25 The Alphabet, pp. 54 ff.

26 On the Grant ostracon see Revue Biblique, 1930, pp. 40 f.

27 ‘L'Origine Égyptienne de l'alphabet Phénicien,’ in Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, XXX, pp. 131 ff.

28 See Gardiner-Peet, The Inscriptions of Sinai, pi. XXII, No. 81.

29 Altsinaitische Inschrift No. 858, pp. 94 f.

30 See plate XXVIII.

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Harvard Theological Review
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