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Inscriptions from Tell Rimah and its Area in North Eastern Jordan

Nabil Bader
p. 287-294

Résumés

Tell Rimah, dans le Hauran jordanien proche de la frontière syrienne, a livré deux courtes inscriptions grecques et, à 500 m de là, dans le wadi al-Murayqib, sept inscriptions safaïtiques. Tell Rimah se situe ainsi à la limite entre la zone des sédentaires employant le grec et celle des pasteurs du harra écrivant en safaïtique.

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Notes de la rédaction

The author is formerly known as Nabil Atallah.

Texte intégral

  • 1 The Aerial Survey of Sir Aurel Stein over Iraq and Transjordan in 1938 and 1938-1939 published by K (...)
  • 2 Kennedy 1982, p. 305.

1Tell Rimah is situated in North Eastern Jordan, about half way between Deir al-Kahf and Deir al-Qinn. It is at about 1129 m above see level. It is a small tell dominating the surrounding area (fig. 1). During my fieldwork in the area in July 2002, I made a visit to the Tell Rimah and the surrounding areas where two Greek inscriptions were located at the top of the tell and seven Safaitic inscriptions were found in a wadi called wadi al-Murayqib to the south west of the tell. During his aerial survey over Iraq and Transjordan in 1938, Sir M. A. Stein did refer to the tell after he took an aerial photograph of it, but he was unable to visit the site1. In 1982, David Kennedy mentioned Tell Rimah among Roman military sites in North Eastern Jordan which, he said, needed fuller discussion and deserved future investigations2.

Figure 1

Figure 1

General View of Tell Rimah (view from the west).

2The inscriptions being discussed here are important on three grounds. First, this is the first time that Greek inscriptions are attested in Tell Rimah. Second, some archaeological remains can be seen on the slopes of this tell. Third, at about 500 m to the south west of the tell, seven Safaitic inscriptions were found in a wadi called wadi al-Murayqib. The area of Tell Rimah is a transitory area between two other areas : to the west, the region where the Greek and Nabataean inscriptions are dominating and to the east, the area where the Safaitic inscriptions are the most important ones. I mean that the area of Tell Rimah is considered a contact place between the people of the harra in the east and the people using the Greek and Nabataean languages in the west.

Greek inscriptions

31. On a rock on the western part of the top of Tell Rimah. A basalt rock bearing a one-line Greek inscription. The letters are well carved but covered with very thick lichen. The text is complete (fig. 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2

Greek inscription n°  1.

4Dimensions : height of the letters 6‑7 cm.

Mακεδόνις

“Makedonis”

  • 3 Gatier 1986, p. 69.
  • 4 Welles 1938, no. 227.
  • 5 Gatier in Humbert & Desreumaux 1998, p. 417.

5The inscription here contained the Greek name Mακεδόνιος. The -ιος is normaly abbreviated into -ις. The name is rare in the region3, but has already been attested in Jerash4. We also found Mακεδόνα in an inscription in Khirbet as-Samra5.

62. On the upper part of an entrance of a small cave on the south west slope of Tell Rimah. Greek letters deeply carved on the upper part of a basalt rock forming the entrance of a small cave. The inscription is covered with a layer of lichen, and the surface of the rock where the inscription is found is very rough, which makes it difficult to read (fig. 3).

Figure 3

Figure 3

Greek inscription n°  2.

7The inscription is high above the ground, which makes it difficult to take measures ; anyhow, the height of the letters is approximately 20 cm.

Mανης

“Manes”

  • 6 Sartre 1985, p. 214.
  • 7 JS II, p. 540, n° 195.
  • 8 Abu al-Hassan 1997, p. 289.
  • 9 Stark 1972, p. 96.
  • 10 Cantineau II, p. 117.
  • 11 H p. 556.
  • 12 H p. 557.

8I think that we have here a personal name which has already been attested in the region. It could be the Latin name Manus or the Semitic name M‘n, a hypocoristic form of M‘n’l derived from the Semitic root ‘wn which means “help”6. It is a well known name in Safaitic inscriptions (H 556), in Thamudic inscriptions7, Lihyanite8, Palmyrene9, in Nabataean, m‘nw10, and finally in Sabaic and Qatabanic (H 556). It has also been attested as a compound theophoric name M‘n’l11 and M‘nlt12.

Safaitic inscriptions

9In the wadi al-Murayqib, located at about 500 m to the south west of Tell Rimah, seven Safaitic inscriptions were found on basalt rocks in the wadi.

101. The first inscription was found on a big basalt boulder in the entrance of wadi al-Murayqib. The rock is facing south. The text seems to be complete. The shape of the characters is of square type ; they are well carved on the surface of the rock (fig. 4).

Figure 4a

Figure 4a

Safaitic inscription n°  1 (photo).

Figure 4b

Figure 4b

Safaitic inscription n°  1 (drawing).

l’bgr bn ‘qrb.

“For (or by) ’bgr son of ‘qrb.”

  • 13 PQI 191.
  • 14 Cantineau I, p. 134.

11We found two names in this inscription ; the first one is ’bgr and the second one, the patronymic, ‘qrb. The first name was found in Safaitic inscriptions (H 9). The second one, ‘qrb, has already been attested in Safaitic and Thamudic inscriptions (H 427), in Qatabanic13, in Nabataean14.

122. On a big basalt rock located at a few meters to the west of the rock carrying the Safaitic inscription number 1. The characters of this inscription are big and well carved on the surface of the rock ; they are square shaped. The inscription seems to be complete (fig. 5).

Figure 5a

Figure 5a

Safaitic inscription n°  2 (photo).

Figure 5b

Figure 5b

Safaitic inscription n°  2 (drawing).

l‘qrb bn m‘n ḏ’l ‘mrt.

“For (or by) ‘qrb son of m‘n of the lineage of ‘mrt.”

13The first name in this inscription is ‘qrb, which has already been discussed in the first Safaitic inscription. About the second name m‘n, see above in the Greek inscription no. 2.

  • 15 Macdonald 1993, p. 352-354.

14ḏ’l : ’l a word meaning any social group from family to nation and ḏ’l meaning “the lineage of” ; it could be translated sometimes as “tribe”15.

  • 16 Rousan 1987, p. 336.
  • 17 Milik 1980, p. 41-52.
  • 18 Macdonald 1993, p. 311-313 and 359-361.

15‘mrt : this is a popular Safaitic tribe name16. J. T. Milik thinks that the tribe‘mrt was settled in the centre of Jordan, especially in the Madaba region and the members of this tribe knew the Nabataean writings17 ; but M. Macdonald disagrees with Milik’s views by giving a set of arguments which I think are correct18.

163A-B. Two inscriptions were found on the same basalt rock, facing south at the entrance of the wadi. We can see below the inscriptions some drawings and a modern Arabic writing, Djasim, which is a personal name (fig. 6).

Figure 6a

Figure 6a

Safaitic inscription no. 3 (photo).

Figure 6b

Figure 6b

Safaitic inscription no. 3 (drawing).

A.

ls( ?)w‘t bn[---].

“For s( ?)w‘t son of[---]”

B.

lntn bn ’b[---].

“For ntn son of ’b[---]”

17The only readable part of the first inscription (A) is a personal name : sw‘t. I did not find any parallel for this name in Safaitic, but I found two occurrences of sw‘ in Thamudic inscriptions (H 335). It means “to neglect”.

  • 19 Tomback 1978, p. 233.
  • 20 JS II, p. 450, no. 81, l. 1.
  • 21 Fowler 1988, p. 352, 396.
  • 22 JS II, p. 605, no. 527.

18The second inscription (B) is formed of two personal names ; the first one is ntn. It is derived from the root ntn, “to give”19. The name ntn did occur in Safaitic, Thamudic, Sabaic, Minaean (H 581). It was also attested as a compound theophoric name ntnb‘l20, ntn yhw21, ‘m ntn in Thamudic22.

19The second name of the second inscription is ’b. It is a common Semitic name. It did occur in almost all north and south Arabic dialects (H 7-8). It was also attested as a compound name like ’b’s,’b’mr (H 8) and ’bs‘d (H 11). But, if the text is broken, we can suggest ’bgr, like in the first Safaitic inscription.

204. The fourth inscription was found on the same surface of the big rock where the inscriptions no. 3 were found (fig. 7).

Figure 7a

Figure 7a

Safaitic inscription no. 4 (photo).

Figure 7b

Figure 7b

Safaitic inscription no. 4 (drawing).

21Lšnqn bn wtr wwgm ‘[l ---] bn qt w‘l ng‘ bn nfll (or nfls ?).
“For (or by) šnqn son of wtr and he grieves on [---] son of qt and on ng‘ son of nfll (or nfls).”

22Šnqn : Šnq a personal name which has already occurred in Safaitic, it could be the Arabic name Šnaq, which means “tall, lanky” (H 359) ; it was attested also as šnqt and šnqm (H 360).

  • 23 Philby, 20qr.
  • 24 PMI 174.

23Wtr is a very well known name in Safaitic inscriptions (H 633-34) ; it did occur also in Thamudic23 and Sabaic (H 634). It is in Arabic wâtir which means “above or unique” (H 633). It did occur as a compound personal name wtr’l in Minaean24.

  • 25 Eksell 2005, p. 15.

24wgm : as for the translation of this verb wgm, it was given many possibilities. Some scholars consider it as “to grieve”, others “to mourn” or “to throw a stone on someone’s grave”25.

25‘l : a particle meaning “upon” or “on”.

  • 26 C 2483.

26Qt : this name could be the Arabic qatt which means “falsehood” (H 473) ; it was attested in Safaitic inscriptions26.

  • 27 C 5142.

27Ng‘ : Harding mentioned in his index (H 582) the occurrence of this name once in Safaitic inscriptions27.

28The last name in this inscription is problematic ; this problem is caused mainly by the shape of the ‘ and n which are distinguished only by their size : here we have two suggestions. nfl(l ?) could be a theophoric name occurring for the first time which can mean “may ’l protect” or “gift of ’l”. Or we can also read this letter as nfl(s), due to the possibility of having a horizontal stroke attached to the upper part of the last letter of the inscription. We note here that the name nfl is occurring in Safaitic inscriptions (H 597). I do not know any nfll or nfls.

295. The inscription was found on a rock in the bed of the wadi ; it seems to be complete (fig. 8).

Figure 8a

Figure 8a

Safaitic Inscription no. 5 (photo).

Figure 8b

Figure 8b

Safaitic Inscription no. 5 (drawing).

30l’ys bn w‘rm wwgm ‘l ’ḫh ’s w‘l hn’ bn [---]h‘mt w’l t‘mr w[‘]l sblt.
“For (or by) ’ys son of w‘rm and he grieves for his brother ’s and on hn’ son of [---]h‘mt and on t‘mr and on sblt.”

31’ys : this personal name is well attested in Safaitic inscriptions (H 88).

32w‘rm : the name w‘r occurs in Safaitic inscriptions ; the word wa‘ir in Arabic means “rough” (H 162).

33wgm : see the comments about this verb in the inscription no. 4.

  • 28 Philby 165.
  • 29 PNIC 28.

34’s : this is a well known personal name in Semitic inscriptions. We do find this name in Safaitic inscriptions (H 45) and it was attested in Thamudic inscriptions28. The name was also attested in Nabataean inscriptions as ’ws as well as a compound theophoric name ’ws’lhy29.

  • 30 Philby 27m.
  • 31 PNIC 63.
  • 32 Stark 1972, p. 84.

35hn’ : a personal name occurring in most of the North Arabic dialects ; it is very well known in Safaitic (H 625), Thamudic30, Nabataean (hn’w)31 and Palmyrene32.

36h‘mt : the first letter h is the definite article. ‘mt is a very well known name attested in Safaitic inscriptions. According to Harding the name ‘mtt, which is also attested in Safaitic inscriptions, could be the Arabic ‘ammitah (H 435).

  • 33 C 893 and HCH n° 43.

37t‘mr : this name was attested in Safaitic33, the popular Safaitic name ‘mr is the source of many personal names in Safaitic inscriptions (for more examples of this name, see H 436).

38sblt : the personnal name sbl occurs in Safaitic (H 309) and the name sblt in Sabaic (H 310).

396. The basalt stone carrying the inscription is located in the north entrance of the wadi al-Murayqib. A part of the face of the stone where the inscription was carved is covered with a thick layer of lichen. It seems that the stone is incomplete in the top, left and right. The characters are of a square type and a big size, 7 to 15 cm. We cannot be sure if the inscription is complete or not because of the break in the stone carrying the inscription (fig. 9).

Figure 9a

Figure 9a

Safaitic Inscription no. 6 (photo).

Figure 9b

Figure 9b

Safaitic Inscription no. 6 (drawing).

lṣrmt.

“For (or by) ṣrmt.

40At the beginning of the text there is a circle which could be the letter w or ‘. We note that there is one t at the end of the text. As we see in the facsimile the characters are square.

  • 34 Philby 166u3.

41The inscription consists of a personal name ṣrmt which is a well known personal name in Safaitic inscriptions (H 371). It occurs also in Thamudic34 ; the name occurs also as ṣrm and ṣrm’l in Safaitic inscriptions (H 371).

I wish to thank Professor M. C. A. Macdonald who kindly read the manuscript and offered valuable comments. I also extend my thanks to Dr. Hani Hayajneh and Dr. Mohammad Ababneh for their comments and help during my work.

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Bibliographie

Abu al-Hassan (H.) 1997 Qir’ah jadîdah li-kitâbat lihyânyah min Jabal ‘Akamah fî mantiqat Al-‘Ula, Riyadh.

Branden (A. van den) 1956 Les textes thamoudéens de Philby, 2 vol. , Louvain.

Cantineau (J.) 1930-1932 Le Nabatéen, 2 vol. , Paris (reprint Osnabrück, 1978).

Eksell (K.) 2005 “Verbs of Sadness in Safaitic Inscriptions”, in O. al-Ghul ed., Proceedings of Yarmuk Second Annual Colloquium on Epigraphy and Ancient Writings, Yarmouk University, p. 13-19.

Fowler (J. D.) 1988 Theophoric Personal Names in Ancient Hebrew, Sheffield.

Gatier (P.-L.) 1986 Inscriptions Grecques et Latines de Jordanie, 2 : Région centrale (Amman-Hesban-Madaba-Main-Dhiban), Paris.

Harding (G. L.) 1953 “The Cairn of Hani”, Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 2, p. 8-56.

Harding (G. L.) 1971 An Index and Concordance of Pre-Islamic Arabian Names and Inscriptions, Toronto, 1971.

Hayajneh (H.) 1998 Die Personennamen in den Qatabanischen Inschriften, Hildesheim.

Humbert (J.-B.) & A.  Desreumaux ed. 1998 Khirbet es-Samra, Jordanie, 1. La voie romaine  ; le cimetière  ; les documents épigraphiques, Turnhout, 1998.

Jaussen (A.) & R.  Savignac 1909-1914 Mission archéologique en Arabie, vol. I-II, Paris.

Kennedy (D. L.) 1982 Archaeological Explorations on the Roman Frontier in North-East Jordan, Oxford, 1982, (BAR Int. Ser. 134).

Macdonald (M. C. A.) 1993 “Nomads and the Hawran in the Late Hellenistic and Roman Periods : A Reassessment of the Epigraphic Evidence”, Syria, 70, p. 303-413.

Milik (J.-T.) 1980 «  La tribu des Bani ‘Amrat en Jordanie à l’époque grecque et romaine », Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, 24, p. 41‑52.

Rousan (M. M.) 1987 Al-Qabâ’il al-thâmûdiyah wa al-safawiyah, Riyadh.

Sartre (M.) 1985 Bostra des origines à l’Islam, BAH, Paris, 1985.

Stark (J. K.) 1972 Personal Names in the Palmyrene Inscriptions, Oxford.

Tomback (R. S.) 1978 A Comparative Semitic Lexicon of the Phoenician and Punic Languages (Society of Biblical Literature, Dissertation series 32), Missoula.

Welles (C. B.) 1938 “The Inscriptions”, in C. H.  Kraeling, Gerasa, City of the Decapolis, New Haven, p. 355-616.

Winnett (F. V.) & G. L.  Harding 1978 Inscriptions From Fifty Safaitic Cairns, Near and Middle East series 9, Toronto.

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Annexe

Abbreviations

C Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, Part V, Paris, 1950.

Cantineau Cantineau 1930-1932.

HCH “Safaitic Inscriptions”, in Harding 1953.

H Harding 1971.

JS Jaussen & Savignac 1909-1914.

Philby Branden 1956.

PMI S. F. al-Said, Die Personennamen in den minaischen Inschriften. Eine etymologische und lexikalische Studie im Bereich der semitischen Sprachen, Wiesbaden, 1995.

PNIC F. Al-Khraysheh, Die Personennamen in den Nabataischen Inschriften des Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum (Marburg, Dissertationsdruck, 1986).

PQI Hayajneh 1998.

WH “Safaitic Inscriptions”, in F. V. Winnett & G. L. Harding 1978.

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Notes

1 The Aerial Survey of Sir Aurel Stein over Iraq and Transjordan in 1938 and 1938-1939 published by Kennedy 1982, p. 293-294.

2 Kennedy 1982, p. 305.

3 Gatier 1986, p. 69.

4 Welles 1938, no. 227.

5 Gatier in Humbert & Desreumaux 1998, p. 417.

6 Sartre 1985, p. 214.

7 JS II, p. 540, n° 195.

8 Abu al-Hassan 1997, p. 289.

9 Stark 1972, p. 96.

10 Cantineau II, p. 117.

11 H p. 556.

12 H p. 557.

13 PQI 191.

14 Cantineau I, p. 134.

15 Macdonald 1993, p. 352-354.

16 Rousan 1987, p. 336.

17 Milik 1980, p. 41-52.

18 Macdonald 1993, p. 311-313 and 359-361.

19 Tomback 1978, p. 233.

20 JS II, p. 450, no. 81, l. 1.

21 Fowler 1988, p. 352, 396.

22 JS II, p. 605, no. 527.

23 Philby, 20qr.

24 PMI 174.

25 Eksell 2005, p. 15.

26 C 2483.

27 C 5142.

28 Philby 165.

29 PNIC 28.

30 Philby 27m.

31 PNIC 63.

32 Stark 1972, p. 84.

33 C 893 and HCH n° 43.

34 Philby 166u3.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1
Légende General View of Tell Rimah (view from the west).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 429k
Titre Figure 2
Légende Greek inscription n°  1.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 663k
Titre Figure 3
Légende Greek inscription n°  2.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-3.png
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Titre Figure 4a
Légende Safaitic inscription n°  1 (photo).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 706k
Titre Figure 4b
Légende Safaitic inscription n°  1 (drawing).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-5.png
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Titre Figure 5a
Légende Safaitic inscription n°  2 (photo).
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Fichier image/png, 1,3M
Titre Figure 5b
Légende Safaitic inscription n°  2 (drawing).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-7.png
Fichier image/png, 239k
Titre Figure 6a
Légende Safaitic inscription no. 3 (photo).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-8.png
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Titre Figure 6b
Légende Safaitic inscription no. 3 (drawing).
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Titre Figure 7a
Légende Safaitic inscription no. 4 (photo).
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Titre Figure 7b
Légende Safaitic inscription no. 4 (drawing).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-11.png
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Titre Figure 8a
Légende Safaitic Inscription no. 5 (photo).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-12.png
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Titre Figure 8b
Légende Safaitic Inscription no. 5 (drawing).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-13.png
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Titre Figure 9a
Légende Safaitic Inscription no. 6 (photo).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-14.png
Fichier image/png, 1,2M
Titre Figure 9b
Légende Safaitic Inscription no. 6 (drawing).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/syria/docannexe/image/360/img-15.png
Fichier image/png, 82k
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Nabil Bader, « Inscriptions from Tell Rimah and its Area in North Eastern Jordan », Syria, 84 | 2007, 287-294.

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Nabil Bader, « Inscriptions from Tell Rimah and its Area in North Eastern Jordan », Syria [En ligne], 84 | 2007, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2016, consulté le 16 septembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/syria/360 ; DOI : 10.4000/syria.360

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Auteur

Nabil Bader

Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology
Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan

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