Biblical Archaeology Review 44:6, November/December 2018

Strata: Milestones: Ada Yardeni (1937–2018)

Ada Yardeni left us on June 29, 2018, after a fast-moving cancer. She was a wonderful woman and a world-renowned scholar in the field of Hebrew and Aramaic paleography.

After studying at the famous Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem and working as a designer (creating the font “Ada”) at Koren Publishing Company and Carta Publishing Company, she studied Northwest Semitic inscriptions and languages at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and prepared her thesis, The Aramaic and Hebrew Documents in Cursive Script from Wadi Murabba‘at and Naḥal Ḥever and Related Material: A Palaeographic and Epigraphic Examination (Ph.D. 1991), under the supervision of Professor Joseph Naveh.

Even before becoming a doctoral student, Ada specialized in paleographic research, including deciphering, drawing, and publishing ancient inscriptions and manuscripts in Semitic scripts. Her drawings/facsimiles of inscriptions were so famous that other scholars often asked her to draw the inscriptions they were publishing. She not only drew but also read these inscriptions. Trained in the most difficult cursive scripts, she knew the various shapes of the different letters and was able to read even faint traces of letters.

Her mastery of art and scholarship perhaps comes from her roots. Ada’s father was a religious scholar and her mother a pianist. Although her father passed away when she was only 17, her life always straddled the two spheres. Raised in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem, Ada was a longtime resident of Jerusalem. Similar to her father, Ada’s spouse died early in their marriage. Ada is survived by two daughters, Dafna and Hagit.

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