Biblical Archaeology Review 5:2, March/April 1979

Syria Tries to Influence Ebla Scholarship

Official view objects to emphasis on Biblical connections. BAR calls for prompt publication of most significant tablets which relate to the Bible.

By Hershel Shanks

It is now clear that anti-Zionist political pressures in Syria are attempting to affect the scholarly interpretation of the Ebla tablets. The Syrians are furious that in the West the intense interest shown in this fantastic cache of tablets has focused on their importance for understanding the Bible and Biblical history.

For the Syrians, the tablets are important because of their significance for the study of what the Syrians are now calling “proto-Syrian history”. Syrian authorities want Ebla scholars to give a “proto-Syrian” emphasis rather than a Biblical emphasis to their work. Dr. Afif Bahnassi, Director General of the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Museums, has asked the Italian scholars who are excavating Ebla and interpreting its horde of tablets to make a formal “Declaration” about the implications of the inscriptions for Biblical history, on the one hand, and for Syrian history, on the other.

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