13th November 2005
I was taking a closer look at the picture of the Tell es-Safi ostracon and decided to trace the letters in Photoshop. I found it quite difficult to identify some of the characters — especially the aleph. I should warn you that I am not a paleographer, though I do find this sort of stuff quite interesting. Any and all correction are most welcome!
So, for what it is worth, here are the images:
The reported reading — ×?×œ×•×ª ‘lwt and ×•×œ×ª wlt — is not too difficult to make out. From right to left you find a somewhat odd aleph with the horizontal cross stroke transversing the two V-strokes (kind of like the aleph at Gezer or from the plaque at Shechem). I am not sure what to make of the two small verticle lines just to the left of the aleph, however. Next you find a lamed, which instead of the almost vertical stroke with a hook to the right at the end, you find it more like a coil. This is similar to the lamed on the potsherds from Tell ed-Duweir (Lachish; dated around 1250 BCE). Following the lamed you have a waw followed by a tav. Then after the vertical stroke, you have another waw followed by what is a very poorly inscribed lamed followed by a partial tav.
UPDATE: Enlarged Image of Ostracon
Duane Smith over at Abnormal Interests wonders about the identification of the initial aleph on the ostracon. While I think it does begin with an aleph, I am not sure what the two vertical strokes between the aleph and the lamed are supposed to be. I don’t think it is a tav as Duane suggests. I magnified and adjusted some settings in Photoshop so that the letters/mrkings may be seen a bit more clearly:
Anyone have any thoughts as to what those strokes represent?