G. Barkay’s idea

As I mentioned yesterday, Gabi Barkay today gave a talk at BIU at the Jerusalem conference of the Rennert Center in which he spoke about a group of bullae which save for one, all derived from the antiquities market. While those of you who are interested will have to buy the conference proceedings to read more, the gist of Gabi’s quite brilliant idea is to connect between a group of fiscal bullae, with a formula “placename LMLK” to the fiscal system during the reign of Manasseh. He suggests that even some of Manasseh’s regnal dates appear on some of these bulla!
If Gabi is correct, this is quite fantastic, as it provides a previously unknown system for another of the Judahite kings. Also, if correct, it raised additional questions regarding Oded Lifschutz et al. suggestions on the continuation of the use of the LMLK stamps into the early 7th cent. BCE.
Really nice – and that what makes archaeology so much fun! Exciting new finds and interpretations all the time!

Aren

15 thoughts on “G. Barkay’s idea

  1. Achish Melek Gat

    Okay, I have ALOT of questions. Obviouslly I need access to Gabi’s presentation (drat this living in the US). Is the suggestion that LMLK seals are not to be associated with Hezekiah? Or is the suggestion that a certain type of LMLK seals are to be associated with Manaasseh, while others are to be associated with Hezekiah or earlier kings of Judah? Does the formula “placename LMLK” which you mentioned above differ from the formula “LMLK placename”? And does the model account for places that would likely not have been viable towns during Manasseh’s reign, like Socoh? I have a hundred questions. How can we get the procedings? A
    Achish Melek Gat

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    1. FYI: I made a web page featuring the unprovenanced LMLK bullae many years ago, for anyone interested in seeing samples. Notice at the very bottom of the page I list the various dates as they might apply to the reigns of Judean kings. Note that several more have been published in recent years, & I know of more that have not been published, the most interesting being one with the LMLK S-word, which Robert Deutsch mentioned in his most recent book (Kaufman vol. 2, p. 303: “BSNH HSLST SWKH LMLK”). I’m not going to comment on Dr. Barkay’s recent revelation till I can obtain a copy of proceedings.

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      1. arenmaeir

        George,
        Yup – these are the bullae that Gabi was talking about, and there are quite a few more than appear in your list on your site.

        Aren

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  2. arenmaeir

    AKM,
    Gabi defines the LMLK handles with the “LMLK placename” format as a separate phenomenon from the bullae with the “placename LMLK” format. The latter so far are only known as bulla. An additional extremely important point of his that there is a strong similarity between the sites mentioned in these bullae and the list of towns in Joshua 15, which makes a strong case for dating that list to Manasseh’s reign (and not Josiah as many have suggested).
    Aren

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  3. Achish Melek Gat

    Thansk Aren. I think I have a grasp on it for the time being. Let me know when Gabi’s remarks appear anywhere I can read them. Have a Happy Secular-Goyishe New Year’s Eve! :)

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  4. Michael Welch

    Dear Dr. Maeir and Everybody, Hi!!! It looks like most of the information about the fiscal bullae can be found on the Temple Sifting Project’s website. Its link is: http://templemount.wordpress.com/2011 I hope that this link works because the information is very interesting. I wish all of you a wonderful 2012. With Much Gratitude and Admiration, Michael

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  5. According to the Arab dealers the fiscal bullae were found together with the royal bullae of Hezekiah and with a great quantity of LMLK handles at the site of Keilah.
    Therefore the fiscal bullae and the LMLK jars are to be dated to the reign of Hezekiah and not of his son Menashe, as proposed by Gabi.

    The site itself has been looted by local inhabitants undisturbed by the Palestinian Authorities who hade limited control of the area. The Israeli
    Antiquities Authority, which was informed of the looting, made no effort to stop the destruction of the site and did not initiated a salvage excavation expedition.
    Robert Deutsch

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    1. Did Dr. Barkay mention if any of the fiscal bullae record a year-date that exceeds 29? If all of them are “B SNE” 29 or less, then I’m surprised he would attempt to make a solid connection to Manasseh. What is the highest year recorded so far?

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      1. The first fiscal bulla published by Avigad was the 26th year Eltolat lmlk, and is the highest figure, which is OK for Hezekiah.
        Also, the list was published in my recent book 2011 Kaufman coll. pp. 81-91.
        In his list, Gabi included also several bullae which are not fiscal because the names are identica. But those are to remain personal seals. In addition, some of his readings are not acceptable regarding the dates.
        Robert Deutsch

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      2. arenmaeir

        Whatever the case is, Gabi’s idea is very interesting and very original. Definitely deserves close scrutiny before being knocked down off-hand.

        Aren

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  6. Okay, thanks to Robert, I updated my Bullae page with a quick textual listing of the other LMLK specimens (note that Robert has published many of the non-LMLK fiscal bullae too, but that is beyond the scope of my research at this time). After reading the abstract on the Temple Mount blog article (Thanks, Mike!), I see nothing that would substantiate Dr. Maeir’s earlier concern about these artifacts “rais[ing] additional questions regarding Oded Lifschutz et al. suggestions on the continuation of the use of the LMLK stamps into the early 7th cent. BCE.” Their theory is based on the stratigraphy of LMLK types. Dr. Barkay’s abstract doesn’t address the issue of when Lachish was re-occupied post-Sennacherib vs. when its Level 2 was fully rebuilt in a large-scale manner (destroyed again by Babylonians years later). Until more of these bullae are excavated in clear contexts, their dating remains open to the reigns of Judean kings before & after Hezekiah, & of course include the possibility of Hezekiah as Robert suggested. In fact statistical probablility seems to favor Hezekiah’s reign (known specimens span Year # 3-26, with an average value of 19, hinting at the recovery from Sennacherib’s invasion per Isaiah 37:30-1).

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  7. Pingback: Fiscal Bullae: The ‘Missing Link’ Between Rosettes and Mwshs? « Against Jebel al-Lawz

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