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Book: About Edom and Idumea in the Persian Period

Chapter: 13. The Aramaic Divination Texts

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42830


The final essay in this section is authored by Esther Eshel, Michael Langlois and Mark Geller. They address “The Aramaic Divination Texts”. The southern foothills of Maresha have yielded more than 1,200 Semitic and (mainly) Greek inscriptions dating to the Hellenistic period. Among them, 360 are from subterranean complex 169. Most of these ostraca and inscriptions bear names or tags. However, a group of 134 Aramaic ostraca, paleographically dated to the third or second century BCE, stands out as a different literary genre, sharing a similar textual structure. Only a few of these ostraca are complete or almost complete, while most are fragmentary. In this essay, the authors suggest that these ostraca were divinatory in nature and were used to inquire about such issues as health, marriage, and property. This interpretation is reinforced by the presence of other archaeological finds that are cultic in nature and might be related to divination.

Chapter Contributors

  • Esther Eshel ( - eeshel)
  • Michael Langlois ( - mlanglois)
  • Mark Geller ( - mgeller) 'University College London'