The Amorite Dynasty of Ugarit

Historical Implications of Linguistic and Archaeological Parallels

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Mary E. Buck

In The Amorite Dynasty of Ugarit Mary Buck takes a new approach to the field of Amorite studies by considering whether the site of Ugarit shares close parallels with other sites and cultures known from the Bronze Age Levant. When viewed in conjunction, the archaeological and linguistic material uncovered in this study serves to enhance our understanding of the historical complexity and diversity of the Middle Bronze Age period of international relations at the site of Ugarit.

With a deft hand, Dr. Buck pursues a nuanced view of populations in the Bronze Age Levant, with the objective of understanding the ancient polity of Ugarit as a kin-based culture that shares close ties with the Amorite populations of the Levant.

The Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant series publishes volumes from the Harvard Semitic Museum. Other series offered by Brill that publish volumes from the Museum include Harvard Semitic Studies and Harvard Semitic Monographs, https://semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu/publications.

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Shiyanthi Thavapalan

In The Meaning of Color in Ancient Mesopotamia, Shiyanthi Thavapalan offers the first in-depth study of the words and expressions for colors in the Akkadian language (c. 2500-500 BCE). By combining philological analysis with the technical investigation of materials, she debunks the misconception that people in Mesopotamia had a limited sense of color and convincingly positions the development of Akkadian color language as a corollary of the history of materials and techniques in the ancient Near East.

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Zenobia Sabrina Homan

In Mittani Palaeography, Zenobia Homan analyses cuneiform writing from the Late Bronze Age Mittani state, which was situated in the region between modern Aleppo, Erbil and Diyarbakır. The ancient communication network reveals a story of local scribal tradition blended with regional adaptation and international political change, reflecting the ways in which written knowledge travelled within the cuneiform culture of the Middle East.

Mittani signs, their forms, and variants, are described and defined in detail utilising a large digital database and discussed in relation to other regional corpora (Assyro-Mittanian, Middle Assyrian, Nuzi and Tigunanum among others). The collected data indicate that Mittanian was comparatively standardised – an innovation for the period – signifying the existence of a centralised system of scribal training.

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Sonja Noll

In The Semantics of Silence in Biblical Hebrew, Sonja Noll explores the many words in biblical Hebrew that refer to being silent, investigating how they are used in biblical texts, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Ben Sira. She also examines the tradition of interpretation for these words in the early versions (Septuagint, Vulgate, Targum, Peshitta), modern translations, and standard dictionaries, revealing that meanings are not always straightforward and that additional work is needed in biblical semantics and lexicography. The traditional approach to comparative Semitics, with its over-simplistic assumption of semantic equivalence in cognates, is also challenged. The surprising conclusion of the work is that there is no single concept of silence in the biblical world; rather, it spans multiple semantic fields.

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David J. Fuller

Habakkuk is unique amongst the prophetic corpus for its interchange between YHWH and the prophet. Many open research questions exist regarding the identities of the antagonists throughout and the relationships amongst the different sections of the book. A Discourse Analysis of Habakkuk, David J. Fuller develops a model for discourse analysis of Biblical Hebrew within the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics. The analytical procedure is carried out on each pericope of the book separately, and then the respective results are compared in order to determine how the successive speeches function as responses to each other, and to better understand changes in the perspectives of the various speakers throughout.

The Development of the Biblical Hebrew vowels

Including a Concise Historical Morphology

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Benjamin Suchard

The development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowels investigates the sound changes affecting the Proto-Northwest-Semitic vocalic phonemes and their reflexes in Tiberian Biblical Hebrew. Contrary to many previous approaches, Benjamin Suchard shows that these developments can all be described as phonetically regular sound laws. This confirms that despite its unique transmission history, Hebrew behaves like other languages in this regard. Many Hebrew sound changes have traditionally been explained as reflecting non-phonetic conditioning. These include the Canaanite Shift of *ā to *ō, tonic and pre-tonic lengthening, diphthong contraction, Philippi’s Law, the Law of Attenuation, and the apocope of short, unstressed vowels. By reconsidering reconstructions and re-evaluating phonetic conditions, this work shows how the Biblical Hebrew forms regularly derive from their Proto-Northwest-Semitic precursors.

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Ahmad Al-Jallad and Karolina Jaworska

This is the first comprehensive dictionary of the Safaitic inscriptions, comprising more than 1400 lemmata and 1500 lexical items. The dictionary includes a lengthy introduction to the inscriptions as well an outline of various aspects of the Safaitic writing tradition.

Kanišite Hittite

The Earliest Attested Record of Indo-European

Alwin Kloekhorst

In Kanišite Hittite Alwin Kloekhorst discusses the ethno-linguistic make-up of Kaniš (Central Anatolia, modern-day Kültepe), the most important Anatolian mercantile centre during the kārum-period (ca. 1970-1710 BCE), when Assyrian merchants dominated the trade in Anatolia. Especially by analysing the personal names of local individuals attested in Old Assyrian documents from Kaniš, Alwin Kloekhorst demonstrates that the main language spoken there was a dialect of Hittite that was closely related to but nevertheless distinct from the Hittite language as spoken in the later Hittite Kingdom. This book offers a full account of all onomastic material and other linguistic data of Kanišite Hittite, which constitute the oldest attested record of any Indo-European language.

Ancient Texts and Modern Readers

Studies in Ancient Hebrew Linguistics and Bible Translation

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Edited by Gideon Kotzé, Christian S. Locatell and John A. Messarra

The chapters of this volume address a variety of topics that pertain to modern readers’ understanding of ancient texts, as well as tools or resources that can facilitate contemporary audiences’ interpretation of these ancient writings and their language. In this regard, they cover subjects related to the fields of ancient Hebrew linguistics and Bible translation. The chapters apply linguistic insights and theories to elucidate elements of ancient texts for modern readers, investigate how ancient texts help modern readers to interpret features in other ancient texts, and suggest ways in which translations can make the language and conceptual worlds of ancient texts more accessible to modern readers. In so doing, they present the results of original research, identify new lines and topics of inquiry, and make novel contributions to modern readers’ understanding of ancient texts.

Contributors are Alexander Andrason, Barry L. Bandstra, Reinier de Blois, Lénart J. de Regt, Gideon R. Kotzé, Geoffrey Khan, Christian S. Locatell, Kristopher Lyle, John A. Messarra, Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé, Jacobus A. Naudé, Daniel Rodriguez, Eep Talstra, Jeremy Thompson, Cornelius M. van den Heever, Herrie F. van Rooy, Gerrit J. van Steenbergen, Ernst Wendland, Tamar Zewi.