The Archaeology of the Ostraca House at Israelite Samaria
Epigraphic Discoveries in Complicated Contexts - ASOR Annual 70
By Ron E. Tappy
The Israelite Ostraca, or pottery fragments, are among the most important finds ever recovered by the Harvard Expedition to Samaria in 1908 according to George Andrew Reisner, who led the expedition to excavate the site of the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.
The fragments depict Hebrew-character inscriptions of Biblical names and memoranda of commercial shipments, but the precise provenance of these historic inscriptions has remained unclear.
This new book considers in great detail the depositional history of the Ostraca House and its immediate surroundings. First, it seeks to clarify the date and nature of the archaeological contexts from which excavators recovered the inscriptions, and evaluates the quantity and quality of data presented in the official excavation report. And finally, the study draws on previously unpublished material from the handwritten daily journals and private diaries of members of the original expedition, including David Gordon Lyon, George Andrew Reisner, Clarence Stanley Fisher, and Gottlieb Schumacher.
The previously unpublished records not only provide supplementary data crucial to a study of the ostraca – now held in the collections of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums - but reveals the archaeological and administrative trials faced by the excavators, who found themselves betwixt and between international and local powers and events during the waning years of the Ottoman Empire and the coming of World War I. Despite this, the struggles of a start-up expedition in a burgeoning academic field, and the vicissitudes of world affairs did not prevent the Harvard Expedition from becoming one of the most influential projects of the early twentieth century.
Dr. Ron Tappy is the G. Albert Shoemaker Professor of Bible and Archaeology at Pittsburg Theological Seminary, and Director of the James L. Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology there. He is also project director and principal investigator of the Zeitah Excavations, an archaeological field project at Tel Zayit, Israel. His research centres on the interrelated nature of the cultural, political, and economic history of Iron Age Israel as well as the various cultural groups with whom Israel interacted. He has written articles on topics including biblical archaeology, ancient Israelite burial customs and beliefs about the afterlife, the 23rd Psalm, and the Ten Commandments. He is a leading authority on the archaeology of Israelite Samaria and has written widely on the subject.
Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context, R. E. Tappy and P. Kyle McCarter, eds. (Eisenbrauns, 2009). Winner of the 2009 Frank Moore Cross Award from the American Schools of Oriental Research.
The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria: Vol. II, The Eighth Century BCE. Harvard Semitic Studies 50. (Eisenbrauns, 2001).
The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria: Vol. I, Early Iron Age through the Ninth CenturyBCE. Harvard Semitic Studies 44. (Scholars Press, 1992).
New Titles List
Ron E. Tappy
Annual of ASOR
- The Archaeology of Agro-Pastoralist Economies in Jordan - ASOR Annual 69
- Archaeology of Difference - Gender, Ethnicity, Class and the Other in Antiquity - Studies in Honor of Eric M. Meyers, AASOR 60-61
- The Archaeology of the Ostraca House at Israelite Samaria - Epigraphic Discoveries in Complicated Contexts - ASOR Annual 70
- ASOR Annual 59 - Pt. 1, Results of the 2001 Kerak Plateau Early Bronze Age Survey : Pt. 2, Two Early Alphabetic Inscriptions from the Wadi El- Hol
- Crossroads and Boundaries - The Archaeology of Past and Present in the Malloura Valley, Cyprus, AASOR 65
- Kataret es-Samra, Jordan
- The Middle Bronze Age IIA Cemetery at Gesher - Final Report, AASOR 62
- The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 1 - Architecture and Religion. Final Report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 Excavation, AASOR 67
- The Nabataean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan, Volume 2 - Cultic Offerings, Vessels, and other Specialist Reports. Final Report on Nelson Glueck’s 1937 Excavation, AASOR 68
- The Near East in the South West - Essays in Honor of William G. Dever, AASOR 58
- The Photographs of the American Palestine Exploration Society - AASOR 66
- Preliminary Excavation Reports and Other Archaeological Investigations - Tell Qarqur, Iron I Sites in the North Central Highlands of Palestine, AASOR 56
- Reflections of Empire - Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspectives on the Pottery of the Ottoman Levant and Beyond, AASOR 64
- Views from Phlamoudhi, Cyprus - AASOR 63