THE LOS LUNAS, NEW MEXICO
Following is a discussion of
"The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone: Genuine or Hoax?"
Please CLICK on Subjects and Numbered links for further information:
(Also see discussion of Mexico artifacts by Franz Tamayo)
In Dixie Perkins’s essay, “New Mexico’s Mystery Stone,” she describes a stone inscribed in Ancient Near Eastern languages, found in the desert west of Los Lunas, New Mexico 1. Intrigued by this Mark Perkins and Titus Kennedy set out to locate what has become to be known as the Decalogue Stone. It should be mentioned at this juncture that a hieroglyphic inscription on leather in Mexico known to Alexander Humboldt and subsequently analyzed by Franz Tamayo bears the same message of The Ten Commandments as the Decalogue Stone. However, the authors of The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone: Genuine or Hoax?" either were unaware of its existence or decided not to mention it. Their efforts to declare it as unauthentic have taken precedence. The existence of Pre-Columbian accounts of The Ten Commandments in America is of course historically of the utmost importance.
Following the advice of local residents they proceeded through ancient Native American sites and reached a place that would have been no more than a temporary campsite en route to another destination. 2 . There they found a large boulder with its lower portion chiseled flat and bearing nine lines of inscriptions. As they drew closer to the stone and analyzed the inscription, it was apparent that the forms of the letters were inconsistent. Some letters followed Phoenician forms dating as far back as the 11th century B. C. E., while other letters followed Samaritan forms as late as the 7th century A. D. , and still others matched forms from ancient Greek script. As they further analyzed the surface of the stone and the inscription itself, coupled with the history surrounding it, their skepticism increased.
The site turned out to be about ten miles from the Rio Grande, a navigable river in ancient times, and about a mile from a reliable source of water, the Rio Puerco. A boundary mark that is not at a prominent landmark or does not function as a prominent landmark itself is not a good boundary mark. This location would not serve as a good place for a rendezvous, either. No matter the century, the little arroyo would be difficult to describe and more difficult to find.
Fig. 3. CLICK to enlarge
After an analysis of the stone and several photographs, the two explorers began their return to Albuquerque because it seemed there was little doubt that the stone was a hoax. Nevertheless, they wondered who might have made the inscriptions. Was it the two centuries old hoax of a Spanish Priest? A converso Crypto-Jew who settled in the area during the colonial period? While the settlement of converts from Judaism to Catholicism who fled Spain to various countries could have taken place in New Mexico as early as the 17th century, there was also a migration of Ashkenazi Jews to New Mexico in the late 19th century. 3. The main problem with the Spanish Priest and Crypto-Jew theories is that the majority of the letter forms used in the inscription were not rediscovered until the late 19th century and early 20th century, which narrows the time frame. Was it made by a Mormon traveler to prove the archaeological veracity of the Book of Mormon? While possible, it is doubtful as the inscription is not highly promoted by Mormon scholars, and one prominent Mormon Brigham Young University professor bluntly stated that it was faked. 4. Could it perhaps have been an early 20th century University of New Mexico professor seeking credibility, or even an odd rancher from the period who had some knowledge of ancient Hebrew and a keen interest in ancient epigraphy? Only further investigation could determine this.
The stone was first recorded in 1936 by archaeologist Frank C. Hibben of the University of New Mexico. 5. Hibben held a PhD in anthropology and was a specialist in archaeology of the Southwest United States, focusing on Native American cultures. Unfortunately, Hibben was suspected of multiple fraudulent archaeological activities during his career. First, there was the Sandia Man incident in which he was suspected of planting objects in the Sandia Cave to support his thesis that there were people living in the area 25,000 years ago. The thesis was not accepted, although the evidence for his fraud on this matter is inconclusive. 6. The second incident occurred in Alaska where Hibben claimed to have found a specific type of arrowhead matching those of the Folsom culture in the High Plains region 10,000 years ago. This theory had no further support and simply added to suspicions that Hibben sometimes made fraudulent archaeological claims. 7.
The third incident was the alleged discovery of the Decalogue Stone. Hibben was the first to mention the stone, and claimed that he was led there by a conveniently unnamed guide who found it sometime in the 1880s. There is no verifiable evidence to support Hibben’s claim, which is questionable based on those three incidents and the accusations of forgery surrounding them.
Other than a small, almost unknown journal called Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, only two well-known scholars have published anything about the inscription. 8 . James Tabor of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Cyrus Gordon of Brandeis University interacted with the inscription. Tabor, a conspiracy theorist who was behind archaeological and historical fantasies such as the “Jesus Tomb” ossuaries and the “Jonah” ossuary, both which have been overwhelming rejected by scholars, interviewed Hibben about the Decalogue Stone. He visited the site, and claimed that the inscription was made by Israelites sometime in the B. C. E. era. 9 . He offered no detailed analysis of the inscription and no plausible reason as to its antiquity other than the letter forms. Cyrus Gordon theorized that the Decalogue Stone was a Samaritan mezuzah as part of an overall thesis that during Byzantine times, Samaritans and others from the Near East dispersed all over the world, even to the Americas. 10.
Gordon, however, never saw the stone in person and may not have looked closely enough at the Decalogue Stone to notice that it could not be Samaritan.
First, a mezuzah contains the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), and the Vehaya (Deuteronomy 11:13-21) rather than a full version of the Ten Commandments. 11
Second, the Samaritan version of the Ten Commandments is markedly different than the version found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, LXX (Greek Old Testament), and Masoretic texts (Hebrew Old Testament).
The Samaritan version says “preserve” rather than “remember” the Sabbath day, in addition to the Samaritan expansion that includes a command to build the temple on Mount Gerizim. These Samaritan elements are missing from the stone, which instead follows the Masoretic text almost letter for letter except for a few spelling errors. And, of course there is the problem that the inscription is not written in a homogenous Samaritan script, or even the Hebrew square script, which most Hebrew language inscriptions used during the Byzantine Period.
Fig. 4. CLICK to enlarge
The Los Lunas Decalogue Stone, first made known to the public in 1936,12 is a carving of 9 lines of text onto a large, flattened basalt surface connected to a massive boulder. The language of the inscription is Hebrew, and a translation of the text reveals that the inscription gives a summary form of the Ten Commandments from the Masoretic text of Exodus 20:2-17. The number of characters per line from top to bottom is as follows: 28, 21, 28, 21, 28, 29, 25, 25, 10. The first 3 lines are extremely close together, almost touching, while the final 6 have a space of about a letters length in between each line. This is due either to a blatant error that will be discussed later, or to an adjustment by the inscriber so that the text would better fill the rock face.
The spacing between words and letters is somewhat inconsistent, although not to the point where it presents difficulty in discerning one word from another. The letters themselves are fairly uniform, but do reveal it was not a practiced hand that wrote them. The form of the script is not homogenous—the author employed several scripts that are from several different time periods and at least two distinct languages (this will be discussed later). Looking at the stone and examining the form of the inscription, it is apparent that a scribe was not the author and the inscription was not well planned out.
(Compare with a probable earlier artifact from México
studied by Alexander von Humboldt)
A decipherment and translation of the stone follows:
(3=alef [ א], ‘=ayin [ ע], $=shin [ ש], x=het [ ח], c=tsade [ ([צ
1) 3nky yhwh 3lhyk 3$r hwc3tyk m3rc
אנכי יהוה אלהיכ אשר הוצאתיך מארצ
I am YHWH your God who brought you out of the land
2) l3 yhyh 3lhym 3xrym ‘l phny
לא יהוה אלהים אחרים על פהני
You will not have other gods before [spelling error] Me
3) mcrym mbyt ‘bdym -> l3 t’$h lk psl l3 t$3
מצרים מבית עבדים לא תעשה לך פסל לא תשא
Of Egypt from the house of slavery -> You will not make for yourself an idol. You will not take
4) 3t $m yhwh l$w3. z3kwr 3t ywm
את שם יהוה לשוא זאכור את יום
5) h$btm lqd$w. kbd 3t 3byk w3t 3mk lm’l
השבתם לקדשו כבד את אביך ואת אמך למעל
Of the rest (shabbat) to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother in order that [spelling
6) y3rkwn ymyk ‘l h3dmh 3$r yhwh 3lhyk
יארכון ימיך על האדמה אשר יהוה אלהיך
Your days may be prolonged upon the land which YHWH your God
7) Ntn lk. L3 trcx. L3 tn3p. L3 tgnb. L3
נתן לך לא תרצח לא תנאף לא תגנב לא
Gave to you. You will not murder. You will not commit adultery. You will not steal. Not
8) T’nh br’k ‘d $kr. L3 txmd 3$t r’k.
תענה ברעך עד שכר לא תחמד אשת רעך
You will (not) answer deceptively [spelling error] against your neighbor. You will not covet the
wife of your neighbor.
9) Wkl a$r lr’k.
וכל אשר לרעך
Or anything, which belongs to your neighbor.
Fig. 5. CLICK to enlarge
CLICK to enlarge
The inscription, while often thought to be written in “Paleo Hebrew,” or “Phoenician”, is actually a mixture of multiple Semitic scripts with a few Greek characters. 13,14,15,16,17
Fig. 6. CLICK to enlarge
For anyone familiar with Semitic inscriptions, a first look at this inscription immediately gives the impression that it is a poor forgery because it is not comparable to any other Semitic inscription discovered. This is due not only to the odd mixture of scripts, but also because of the appearance of the characters themselves. Yet, if this inscription was made in the late 19th or early 20th century, near the time of its 1936 discovery, the mixture of letters may be explained by the lack of extensive knowledge about the Phoenician script.
The Phoenician script was re-discovered in 1855, and a transcription and translation from the Phoenician sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II at a site near Sidon was published in the June 15, 1855 New York Times, while a facsimile of the inscription itself was published in the July 1855 edition of United States Magazine. Other scripts present in the inscription were known at least by the end of the first decade of the 20th century. Alternatively, the mixture of letters may be explained by the inscriber’s purposeful intent to create a more mysterious inscription. The extensive assortment of character forms is certainly unique and draws interest to the inscription on those grounds alone.
The following evaluation of the characters present in the inscription was done by means of comparing numerous photographs, drawings, and charts. 18 In general, the letterforms on the Decalogue Stone resemble the Phoenician script and its immediate descendents, with a few replacements and modifications, notably archaic Greek 19 This use of a modified Phoenician script suggests the inscriber was attempting to emulate stone inscriptions from the Iron Age, at least partially. However, an obvious general form disagreement can be seen between the Decalogue Stone and ancient inscriptions written with the Phoenician alphabet—the variance in the slope of the letters. On the Decalogue Stone, the backs of the letters that have a horizontal line are aligned straight up and down at a 90-degree angle to the line. In contrast, the backs of many letters with horizontal line are written at a sloping angle in ancient Semitic inscriptions written in the Phoenician script, while letters in ancient Greek inscriptions are characteristically straight. 20 Additionally, inscriptions using the Phoenician alphabet from the Iron Age also have long tails on many of the letters, which the letters of the Decalogue Stone lack.
On the Decalogue Stone, the form of the letters Alef, Bet, Gimel,, Nun, Ayin, Peh, and possibly Kaf and Waw could be assigned to the Phoenician script, also used for archaic or paleo-Hebrew (roughly 11th to 6th century B. C. E.), although this would not be the hand of a trained and experienced scribe. 21.
The letter Heh follows a form from the Roman period found on coins from the area of Judah between the Persian and Early Roman Periods (4th century B. C. E. through the 2nd century A. D. 22.
Fig. 9. CLICK to enlarge
The letter Waw is somewhat similar to the Phoenician, but more square and thus similar to Old Aramaic forms. 23. The letter Zayin is one of the characters that appears to be borrowed from the Zeta used in some ancient Greek inscriptions stretching from the Archaic through the Byzantine period. 24. The letter Het looks identical to the Greek Eta used in inscriptions from a variety of periods. Tet is not present in the inscription, and cannot be commented on. Yod clearly follows a Samaritan form, although with more angular strokes and without a slope. 25.
Fig. 10. CLICK to enlarge
Kaf and Lamed appear to follow the Kappa and Lambda from ancient Greek inscriptions, but reversed, although the Kaf presented on the stone could be interpreted as a Phoenician form that changed its orientation from slanted to straight up and down. Mem is yet another Samaritan form, but simplified without the addition to the tail veering left. 26. Samek appears only once, but follows a Hebrew form from Egypt, such as would be used in the 5th century B. C. E. . Elephantine Letters, or alternatively a backwards Tsade from Phoenician inscriptions. 27.
Fig. 11. CLICK to enlarge
The letter Peh, as mentioned earlier, could be classed as Phoenician or Archaic Hebrew, but also matches Old Aramaic forms. Tsade is the latest represented form, appearing to be Rabbinical or Rashi script type for the final form of Tsade from the mid-second millennium A. D., but could also be construed as a strange variant of an Aramaic form. 28. Qof is only represented once, and matches a form from Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite inscriptions (ca. 1500-1100 B. C. E. ), although it could also be a corrupted version of a Samaritan Qof used in inscriptions. 29.
Resh is written in the same form as Hebrew during the Roman period as well as a Samaritan script Resh, but could also be interpreted as a Greek Rho, reversed, much like the Kappa present in the inscription, so this letter is a poor indicator. Shin follows the Samaritan form, but also resembles the Omega from Greek inscriptions in the Byzantine Period. Finally, Taw is yet another letter adopted from a wide range of Greek inscriptions. Thus, it is apparent that the author of the inscription used an extremely wide range of letter forms, only excluding, probably deliberately, the commonly known square script used for Modern and Biblical Hebrew today, which dates back in an earlier form to the Aramaic square script and began to be used for Hebrew during the period of the Babylonian Exile.
The inscriber, however, may not have known ancient alternatives to the modern day Hebrew square script for 4 or 5 of the forms (Tet is not present, which could have been the sixth, and Kaf is debatable), as evidenced by the adoption of either Greek script or simply inventing a letter form that looked similar to other ancient forms used to write Hebrew. This suggests an incomplete knowledge of the ancient Phoenician or Archaic Hebrew script, making substitution of other ancient forms necessary, while clearly making a point to leave out forms that are used in modern day Hebrew.
Another possibility is that the author of the inscription intentionally mixed the Greek script forms to give the text a more unique and puzzling character. The mixing of diverse letter forms from multiple periods, regions, and languages is simply unprecedented for any ancient monumental inscription. This alone argues strongly against the authenticity of the Decalogue Stone. The final important point to remember is that all of these letter forms used were known prior to 1936, with the latest significant script discoveries more than 20 years before the Decalogue Stone was recorded by Hibben 30. The inscription could certainly have been forged, with these letterforms, by 1930 or slightly earlier.
An analysis of the text reveals some interesting features. The most obvious is the scribal error in line 3, which is an added continuation of line 1 and marked by an upward pointing correction arrow. The author apparently noticed after finishing line 2 that the end of the clause from line 1 had not been completed, and so inserted it before beginning the third sentence, along with an arrow mark facing upwards, indicating that it should be read with a higher line. 31. Line 1 ended with a word starting with Mem, and the next word also began with a Mem. After the first sentence, nearly all of the clauses began with a Lamed. The inscriber could have thought he already copied the next 3 words and simply skipped that line, only to realize later and insert a correction. Regardless, what this error clearly indicates is that the author of the inscription was not familiar with Hebrew, and especially not the ancient letterforms.
The error also indicates that the scribe was copying from a source taken to the site and not from memory. The act of stopping mid-sentence and beginning a new one demonstrates that what was being done was simply letter for letter and sound for sound copying. No actual scribe would do this, as scribes are literate in the language or languages in which they write, and would usually write out the inscription beforehand to avoid mistakes of this nature.
The last and possibly most important aspect of this error is the presence of the upward pointing correction arrow in the actual inscription. This use of a correction arrow is unprecedented in ancient Semitic inscriptions. In ancient Egypt there were cases of scratching out a former Pharaoh’s name and replacing it with another, but this is a completely different situation, and no use of any correction marker was used. This correction arrow indicates a composition of the inscription outside of antiquity, and suggests composition in the time of typeset or typewriters, certainly fitting of an early 20th century
The case for a combination of both a copying error and limited familiarity with Hebrew can be made when various misspelled words are analyzed. For example, the last word in line 2, copied as phny, adds a Heh to the word. If the copyist had just read the word off the Masoretic text, or simply had a transcriptional copy of the 9 lines to be inscribed, an error from vocalization to writing would be easily explained. Reading pa-nay and then thinking out the sounds could easily translate into writing pah-nay. Another error like this occurs in line 4, when “zakor” is written with an Alef following the Zayin. If reading a transcription of the Masoretic text, or even the vowel pointed Masoretic text, it would be easy accidentally to insert a “vowel” in the form of Alef into the word if the copyist’s native language writes vowels. In line 5, lema’an is written as lema’al, indicating a misreading of the final Nun for a Lamed. While lema’an means “in order that,” a very common word, and is found in the commandment in Exodus 20:12, lema’al is nonsense and is an obvious error. This error likely arose from the inscribers misreading of final Nun in the Masoretic text for a Lamed, since the forms are similar in the modern square script, but Nun and Lamed in the Phoenician script are quite distinct.
In line 8, Shaqer is written Shkr—a confusion of the Kaf and Qof. For a non-Hebrew speaker, this is an easy error to make when copying and thinking of the sounds while inscribing. This error also suggests the possibility that the Masoretic Hebrew text was first transcribed into Latin characters, then reproduced in the various scripts present on the stone.
The analysis indicates that the text was simply transferred from the Masoretic text, in incomplete form, into ancient letter forms with little preparation and care. It further indicates that the author did not have a good understanding of Hebrew, if any beyond knowing sounds for the letters. Finally, although Barry Fell claims in his article about the Decalogue Stone that the punctuation matches that of ancient inscriptions, his conclusion is incorrect. 32. Examining ancient Semitic inscriptions such as the Tel Dan Stele or the Mesha Stele shows that the alleged “punctuation” marks present in Semitic inscriptions are actually word dividers, not “periods. ” These dots at the bottom of the line in the Decalogue Stone also hold a different position from the word divider dots in the middle of the line for Semitic inscriptions. Instead, the Decalogue Stone uses modern punctuation methods by placing periods at the end of sentences, which further indicates its modern composition.
Concerning the method of inscription, patina, and angle of the stone, little can be said. Any definitive clues as to the age that would be indicated by patina have been wiped away because of exposure to the weather and the thousands of visitors that have touched, tampered with, and even vandalized the stone (line 1 has been nearly scratched out). The appearance of the inscription looks recent, but this evaluation cannot be used as primary evidence that the inscription is from the recent past because of the conditions under which the inscription has been subjected.
The inscription rests at a strange angle on “a boulder weighing an estimated 80 to 100 tons and is about eight meters in length. Nine rows of 216 characters were chiseled at a 150 degree angle into the north face,” although the ground at the base of the stone is quite flat. 33. Either the entire boulder has shifted over time, the inscriber wrote it at that angle because it would give the appearance of age, or because of the convenient shape of the rock section where the inscription was placed, the inscriber decided it would look best lining up with the square shape of the rock section.
The method of the inscription appears to be use of a chisel for the letters themselves. A small chisel, tapped lightly or even used to scrape at times, would be the most likely method judging from the short depth of the incisions into the rock. No true round shapes, though prolific amounts of extremely angular shapes are found indicate a somewhat large tool and an unpracticed hand.
However, the method used to flatten the surface before the inscription is perhaps the most interesting physical aspect of the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone. Judging from the depth of the cuts into the stone, at least two inches at some points, and the stress lines left from this chipping away, a very large and strong tool must have been used for this process. The stress fracture lines created by creating a flat rock surface are generally at least two inches apart. The stone, basalt, is quite strong. It might be that a chisel made with a strong metal such as iron or steel, along with a large hammer, or possibly even a sledgehammer with a triangular point, made for breaking rocks, was used for creating a flatter surface on which to write. These tools are fairly modern, and would have been the tools of choice in the early 20th century when the inscription was first seen.
The above evaluation of the Los Lunas Decalogue Stone suggests that it was not composed by a professional scribe in antiquity, but (a) composed by someone with a limited or no knowledge of Hebrew, (b) who did not follow the form of any other known ancient Semitic inscription, (c) who positioned the stone in an implausible location for a monumental inscription; further, (d) the inscription was written after the rediscovery of the Phoenician script in the late 19th century, and (e) was made with modern tools. Even more, (f) the initial discoverer of the inscription, Frank Hibben, had a questionable reputation because of at least three incidents in his career in which he claimed to have made radical discoveries that had no supporting evidence. Hibben also was not a specialist in Semitics or the Ancient Near East, but conveniently lived nearby as a professor of archaeology at the University of New Mexico. Thus, the evidence leads to the conclusion that the Decalogue Stone is a creation of the late 19th or early 20th century by someone aware of the Mexican hieroglyphics depicting The Ten Commandments.
Footnotes: (All Photos enhanced and sharpened from originals)
Titus Kennedy earned a B. A. from Biola University, M. A. from the University of Toronto in Near Eastern Archaeology, M. A. and in Biblical Archaeology from the University of South Africa. He is pursuing a Doctorate in Biblical Archaeology at the University of South Africa. You may reach Titus at titusm@gmail. com.
Mark R. Perkins earned a B. A. from Azusa Pacific University and M. Div. from Talbot School of Theology. He is pastor of the Front Range Bible Church in Denver, CO. You may reach Pastor Mark at frontrangepastor@gmail. com.
1. Perkins, Dixie L. “New Mexico’s Mystery Stone,” Best of the West, Tony Hillerman, ed. 1991 (New York: Harper Collins), 3-5.
2. Dawson, Jerry and Judge, William J. “Paleo-Indian Sites and Topography in the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico,”The Plains Anthropologist 14:44 (1969): 149-163.
3. Carroll, Michael P. “The Debate over a Crypto-Jewish Presence in New Mexico: The Role of Ethnographic Allegory and Orientalism,” Sociology of Religion 63:1 (2002): 1-19; 2, 8-9.
4. Nibley, Hugh W. Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, Lecture 30, Mosiah 6. Maxwell Institute, Provo, Utah, 1988-90.
5. http://www. nmstatelands. org/Permits. aspx. Hibben graduated from Princeton in 1933, and then in 1936 received a master’s degree in zoology from the University of New Mexico, firmly placing him in the area in 1936.
6. Bliss (1940a). “A Chronological Problem Presented by Sandia Cave, New Mexico. ” American Antiquity (Society for American Archaeology) 5 (3): 200–201.
7. Nature 426 (27 November 2003) 374.
8. The Epigraphic Society is a club of amateur epigraphers who occasionally publish collections of papers. It was founded in 1974, primarily by marine biologist Barry Fell.
9. Tabor, James D. “An Ancient Hebrew Inscription in New Mexico: Fact or Fraud?” United Israel Bulletin Vol. 52, Summer 1997, 1-3.
10. Gordon, Cyrus, “Diffusion of Near East Culture in Antiquity and in Byzantine Times,” Orient 30-31 (1995), 69-81.
11. The Shema is so named because it begins with the Hebrew command “Hear!” The Vehaya begins with the Hebrew phrase “And it will be. ” Both passages are an important part of Jewish and Samaritan prayer.
12. http://www. nmstatelands. org/Permits. aspx. Although there are claims that Hibben discovered the inscription in 1933, the first documented discovery is 1936. The name of YHWH for nothingness (in vain). Remember [spelling error] the day.
13. http://www. nmstatelands. org/default. aspx?PageID=127. Accessed August 17, 2009
14. http://www. ancient-hebrew. org/15_loslunas. html. Accessed August 17, 2009
15. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Los_Lunas_Decalogue_Stone Accessed August 17, 2009
16. Deal, David Allen, Discovery of Ancient America, 1st ed. , Kherem La Yah Press, Irvine CA, 1984; 3-4.
17. http://www. econ. ohio-state. edu/jhm/arch/loslunas. html.
18. The included photos show some comparisons of letter forms discussed. For general guidelines on analyzing inscriptions; cf. Demsky, Aaron. Reading Northwest Semitic Inscriptions. Near Eastern Archaeology 70:2 (2007), 68-74.
19. Healy, John F. Reading the Past: The Early Alphabet. Berkeley: University of California, 1990; 29, 37.
20. Cf. stone inscriptions as the Ahiram Sarcophagus, Sarcophagus of Eshmunazar II, Tel Dan Stele, Mesha Stele, and Siloam Inscription.
21. Cf. The Ahiram Sarcophagus, the Gezer Calendar, the Tel Dan Stele, the Mesha Stele, the Siloam Inscription, the Shebna Lintel, the Ekron Inscription, the Stele of Zakkur, and others from the Iron Age.
22. Cf. especially the Yehud coins, but also Hasmonean and Judean revolt coins.
23. Mykytiuk, Lawrence J. Identifying Biblical Persons in Northwest Semitic Inscriptions of 1200-539 B. C. E. . E. Boston: Brill, 2004. Fig. 8, 114.
24. The Greek Zeta sometimes varied in form, but the most common form in inscriptions across all time-periods resembles that on the Decalogue Stone, which is also the same form as modern Greek.
25. The stone inscription of the Samaritan Ten Commandments from the Byzantine or early Islamic Period, housed in the Living Torah Museum, or the Samaritan Mezuzah inscriptions from the 6th to 7th centuries AD, are excellent comparisons.
26. Again, cf. the Samaritan above referenced Samaritan inscriptions.
27. Although this is not a stone inscription, it was the closest parallel found. Alternatively, the possibility of the letter being crafted after backwards Tsade could indicate another mistake by the inscriber.
28. Lidzbarski, Mark, Letter Chart in Appendix to Gesenius, H. F. W. Genesius’ Hebrew Grammar. Oxford, 1922. ; Healy, 29.
29. Naveh, Joseph. “Some Considerations on the Ostracon from ‘Izbet Sartah. ” Israel Exploration Journal 28:31-35. Fig. 1, 31.
30. Torrey, Charles C. (1925), “The Newly Discovered Phoenician Inscription,” New York Times, June 15, 1855, 4. “The Ahiram Inscription of Byblos,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 45:269–279. Dussaud, René, Syria 5 (1924:135-57).
31. This phenomenon could be due to a scribal error such as homeoarchy or haplography.
32. Fell, Barry; “Ancient Punctuation and the Los Lunas Text,” Epigraphic Society, Occasional Publications, 13:35,
33. http://www. nmstatelands. org/default. aspx?PageID=127. Accessed August 17, 2009.