Algorithmic handwriting analysis of the Samaria inscriptions illuminates bureaucratic apparatus in biblical Israel

Autoři: Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin aff001;  Arie Shaus aff001;  Barak Sober aff004;  Eli Turkel aff001;  Eli Piasetzky aff005;  Israel Finkelstein aff002
Působiště autorů: Department of Applied Mathematics, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel aff001;  Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel aff002;  Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, United States of America aff003;  Department of Mathematics, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States of America aff004;  School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel aff005
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article


Past excavations in Samaria, capital of biblical Israel, yielded a corpus of Hebrew ink on clay inscriptions (ostraca) that documents wine and oil shipments to the palace from surrounding localities. Many questions regarding these early 8th century BCE texts, in particular the location of their composition, have been debated. Authorship in countryside villages or estates would attest to widespread literacy in a relatively early phase of ancient Israel's history. Here we report an algorithmic investigation of 31 of the inscriptions. Our study establishes that they were most likely written by two scribes who recorded the shipments in Samaria. We achieved our results through a method comprised of image processing and newly developed statistical learning techniques. These outcomes contrast with our previous results, which indicated widespread literacy in the kingdom of Judah a century and half to two centuries later, ca. 600 BCE.

Klíčová slova:

Algorithms – Deserts – Digital imaging – Imaging techniques – Israel – Literacy – Monte Carlo method – Oils


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