10th August 2005
I had some very helpful comments by Robert Deutsch on the tracing of the letters on my Yehukal Seal blog entry. I have updated the image to reflect most of the recommendations, though I have to admit that I cannot make out some of the suggestions on the picture of the seal I am working with — even after magnifying the image and making changes to the contrast and colour balance, etc., with Photoshop. For instance, I just don’t see the upper half of the first lamed, but I think I do see part of the middle bar on the yod (the second letter). At any rate, I did make some of the suggested modifications. (A higher resolution picture would perhaps make it easier to trace).
As I noted in the comments thread to the original post, the (only) purpose of the tracing was to bring the letters — as best as I could discern them from a lo-resolution photograph — into sharper relief so that people who haven’t ever looked at a seal or other inscriptions can use the chart to read the seal. Thus, my purpose was pedagogical, not paleographical.
Robert Deutsch remains convinced that the bulla is from the late 8th or the first half of the 7th century BCE, while Peter van der Veen defends Mazar’s date of late 7th early 6th century BCE. Perhaps we’ll need to get them to debate their evidence to see if some consensus can be reached on the date.