From Syria Sensational New Collection of Tablets Found -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 05:3 (Summer 1976)
Article: From Syria Sensational New Collection of Tablets Found
Author: Anonymous


From Syria
Sensational New Collection of Tablets Found

Beneath a dusty, sun-baked mound in northern Syria, Italian archaeologists have uncovered one of the most spectacular finds of all time — a collection of 15,000 clay tablets from a civilization that flourished over 4, 000 years ago. That kingdom was Ebla, a Semitic civilization which was previously known only by occasional references in ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and Egyptian texts. The site of the discovery is Tell Mardikh, 30 miles south of the Syrian town of Aleppo. Paolo Matthiae and Giovanni Pettinato of the University of Rome are directing the excavation.

Bible Names and Cities Mentioned in Tablets

Inscriptions on the tablets seemed to establish both the existence and the exact site of Ebla and that, in itself, was exciting to the archaeologists. But as they began scanning some of the tablets, that excitement soon grew to a feeling bordering on delirium. For

Cross marks the location of Tell Mardikh, site of the ancient kingdom of Ebla.

inscribed on the tablets, in a mix of logograms — symbols that represent a whole word or concept, as “$” stands for the word “dollar” — and syllabic units spelling out Eblaic words, are names such as ab-ra-mu (Abraham), e-sa-u (Esau), da-u-dum (David), sa-ʾu-lum (Saul), mi-ka-ilu (Michael), is-ra-ilu (Israel) and ib-rum (Eber). Eber is listed in the Bible as the great-great-great-great-grandfather of Abraham (Genesis 11:14–26) and is regarded by some as the individual from whom the Hebrew people derived their tribal name.

The tablets contain references to the cities of Hazor, Megiddo and Gaza — all familiar to students of the Bible. But the most startling reference is to “urusalima”, which is unmistakably Jerusalem. This mention predates any other known reference to the famous city by about 1, 000 years.

The tablets also include stories recounting a great flood and the creation of the world. Both accounts correspond to Noah’s deluge and the record in the Old Testament of the world’s beginnings.

David Freedman, a University of Michigan biblical scholar, the current president of the Society of Biblical Literature and a widely regarded expert in this field, was so intrigued by the first reports of Tell Mardikh that he traveled to Rome to talk to Matthiae and Pettinato personally.

On his return from Rome, Freedman enthusiastically commented, “Previous reports and rum...

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