Imaging and Analysis of Hebrew First Temple Period Ostraca

Speaker:Prof. Eli Piasetzky
Affiliation:Physics Dpartment, Tel Aviv University
Location:Lidow Rosen Auditorium (323)

An ostracon is a piece of pottery or stone that contains writing. We have been studying ostraca written in the ancient Hebrew alphabet from the first Temple era (Iron Age II). The writing is in ink on a clay ceramics background, and is sometimes illegible and very difficult to decipher. I will describe our use of modern technologies to document and improve reading of these ancient inscriptions.

The discipline of palaeography studies the morphology of the letters, their diachronic development over time, and their synchronic variations at a given time. This has been traditionally carried out manually with subjective bias. I will also describe our efforts to introduce the latest developments in image processing and artificial intelligence into this field. Our objective is to date the writing, identify the development of the Hebrew alphabet, find differences between writings from the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and to distinguish between different scribes in the individual inscriptions.