Thursday, November 01, 2018

Wadi el-Hol Translation Thought

It's been a very long time.  I'm not sure if I'll revisit this.  However, in addition to the translation possibility I previously offered, it's possible and maybe more plausible to read the two as:

(Read as an alphabetic Proto-Ugaritic** script:)


Who* is Athtarah?  The bow and kupthu (scimitar) of El (-
-) the Powerful Lord (is) who pacifies her soul, and [it] abates.

The kupthu reference is an epithet to Anat later (?) at Ugarit, where she is also associated with bows.  I'm sure I've noted that previously somewhere.  However, this would be a much earlier representation, found in Egypt but plausibly written by a Syrian, but prior to the reorganization of Anat within Egyptian religion during the later New Kingdom.  So the associational displacement (of kupthu and the bow) is not implausible.

My concentration on the epithet relation is that this grammar, rather than considering the -h a suffix, would make this essentially a grammatically embellished epithet - which is orthographically also highly plausible.

Interestingly, then, is the -h feminine suffixation of Athtar(ah) but -t (presumably) feminine suffixation of qst (bow).  It is possible that one or the other term is borrowed (though is that highly plausible...?).  But it is also possible that this demonstrates that the language was fusional...  Athtara(t) occurring at the end of a sentence might lack inflection, whereas qst could not as it would be the nominative beginning of a new sentence.  [I'm not sure this would have a totally meaningful comparison with Akkadian, so I'd be curious what evidence of how inflection was handled (essentially) poetically outside of Arabic - which traditionally handles it this way.]

On the other hand, and perhaps more plausibly, either the character used for Sh in Qashtu or in Napsh(iha) is wrong.  Because I've shifted my view on this being the earliest alphabet, if this reflects the distinction often found in Ugaritic, then napsh may reflect the genuine orthography of S1 in the scribe's dialect whereas Qashtu might reflect a foreign loan - perhaps from the dialect of the commissioner of the inscription (if this were an early example of that essentially system of foreign Canaanite scribes in Egypt known in the New Kingdom)...

I actually think, rereading the script's paleography more strictly, that it is plausible the horizontal inscription was a tacked on inscription by another scribe in a very similar but slightly different script (noting the variation in the N's (the vertical's sole and faintly present N has a more rounded top loop and a perpendicular offshoot at the bottom end that aren't present in the horizontal inscription).

There are plausibly two puns within this - nwh. in Egyptian referred to intoxication expressly associated with these Hathoric festivals.  Thus nwh. "to cause to rest" or "quiet" or "stop" probably was a pun on a known word for Hathoric intoxication.  Additionally, nps1 may have contrasted with other meanings of that word such as "desire" - thus 'quieting Athtarah's desire' may have been a euphemism for Il having sex with her.

* Or "what?"  Since this sets up sort of a call response as to her epithet.  I'm not sure the distinction really matters.
** As noted in my much earlier longer paper, Ugaritic seems to have reversed the paleography of the H and H. characters here, a reversal which - in Ugaritic - also matches Sinaitic (in my and most observers' opinions).  However, the usage at Wadi el-Hol of the three-lines upturned (two upturned hands and a neck) is preserved in South Arabian, which does not preserve the one-arm-down H; however it is possible Old North Arabian trends might preserve that; additionally Jamme 863 may be early evidence of the preservation of this trend.  Thus, this alphabet may be more plausibly from the 10th or 11th century, making it a potential immediate precursor to Arabian scripts.

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