"Spading Up Ancient words"
 
ILLUSTRATIONS #1

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Figure #1
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(1) In languages of Mesopotamia old pictographs of familiar objects (star, head, food bowl, stream, walking) are transformed over the centuries to more abstract symbols. Our modern English alphabet also goes back to old pictographs of concrete symbols, e.g., "m" is a picture of water with tiny waves.
Figure #2
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(2) Since Sumer is generally credited with being the oldest civilization of them all, its records and artifacts hold a special fascination. Great sophistication is shown in tablets which treat business records, law codes, hymns, medicine, wars, mythology, poetry. But who taught the people of the "first civilization"?
Figure #3
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(3) The special agony of the Egyptologist is working with priceless fragments which somehow survived centuries of neglect, plundering, and destruction, knowing that more than 99% of the records of the past are forever lost. This fragment is preserved in the great Turin collection in northern Italy.
Figure #4
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(4) The oldest West Semitic Inscription found in the western Mediterranean at Nora on the island of Sardinia and now dated earlier than David, 11th century B.C. It was first published upside down and its significance was missed for many decades. Somehow it plays into the great mystery of - how the Greeks came to adopt the Canaanite alphabet around this time.
Figure #5
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(5) There is little reason other than habit to link the Ur site in southern Iraq with the Ur of the Chaldees where Abram once lived. Another Ur farther to the north seems a more likely possibility.
Figure #6
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(6) An extremely rare and exciting find among the chronicles of the Chaldean kings: Nebuchadrezzar's account of the fall of Jerusalem in 597/6 B.C. which parallels the account in II Kings 24:10-17.
Figure #7
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(7) Conventional views on the location of the land of the Queen of Sheba are less than convincing. Velikovsky makes interesting points in support of Queen Hatshepsut's visit to the land of Punt (the Holy Land) as the same event, shown, for example, in the foreign influence on the architecture of her funerary temple, Deir El Bahari, the inscriptions there of her journey and the gifts she brought back, and in her return up the Nile which would have been impossible if Sheba were in southern Arabia or down the east coast of Africa. Yet this 'solution' has its difficulties too. The Queen of Sheba problem is a perfect illustration of the great importance of ancient chronology - an explosively controversial topic.
Figure #8
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(8) One of eight inscriptions found near Hebron in Israel in 1966, this undeciphered text on camel skin was believed by prominent experts to be actual Philistine writing until 1983, when it was convincingly exposed as a forgery. The inscription turns out to be fancifully copied and miscopied lines from the famous Hebrew Siloam inscription. There is a powerful lesson here on the frailty of expert scholarly opinion on matters dealing with the ancient world.
Figure #9
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(9) Enigmatic sketch drawn by Seyffarth in his personal copy of his 1855 book, attempting to relate the alphabet to the lunar zodiac, an idea recently and compellingly explored by Moran and Kelley.
Figure #10
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(10) Three versions of the same inscription found in Bat Creek Mound No. 3, Loudon County, Tennessee. Dr. Henriette Mertz, an amateur explorer of the ancient past, was the first to note that the Smithsonian Institution had published it upside down. Right side up, its Semitic character becomes clear, but what were Semites doing in Tennessee many centuries before Columbus?


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