Biblical Archaeology Review 22:2, March/April 1996

Inside BAR

Biblical Archaeology Review

Nothing compares with visiting a museum and seeing your favorite piece in person. We often hear from travelers on their return who are thrilled to have finally seen the objects they had previously admired in BAR’s photographs. But many of the most valuable artifacts from the Biblical world will never be seen by museumgoers, no matter how far they travel, or by readers flipping through BAR. These objects reside in private collections, and, although often unmatched by museum holdings, they are off limits to the public—and often to scholars as well. A recent book by a Tel Aviv antiquities dealer and a Haifa University scholar, however, offers a rare glimpse into this shrouded world. “In Private Hands,” presents two reviews of the book, which highlights 40 ancient inscriptions owned by collectors. First, Hershel Shanks reports on one of the book’s most striking subjects—a seventh- or sixth-century bulla, or lump of clay used to seal a document, that not only displays the name of a Biblical scribe, but may also bear “The Fingerprint of Jeremiah’s Scribe.” P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., continues the report in “Pieces of the Puzzle,” where he discusses several of the “new” objects, including a group of arrowheads inscribed with the names of Amurru royalty, a powerful Syrian dynasty that, the arrow-heads reveal, survived well into Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.).

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