Remarkable Ancient Inscription

    JUDAEA-SAMARIA. Byzantine era, circa 300-500 CE. Lead Mandaic scroll with lengthy prayer, spell or rite. Unrolled scroll is of thin lead 1.81 inches (4.6 cm) wide and 12.8 inches (35.12 cm) long; each side is lightly inscribed with letters in the Mandaic Aramaic script, 105 horizontal lines per side, with each line averaging 10-13 characters. One corner at the top remains folded over; the rest has been skillfully and successfully unrolled. Dark gray "lead patina" present throughout, with some crystallization evident in isolated patches, mostly along the side. An extremely lengthy and carefully scriven ancient text, likely of great importance and interest, in an exceptional state of preservation. See British Museum Collection item #132948 for a lead scroll of similar length, said to contain "incantations against evil spirits."

    From the Barakat Biblical Collection, imported prior to 1982; originally found in Jerusalem, mid 1970s.

    Mandaic is a specific dialect of the Eastern branch of Aramaic utilized in antiquity by the Mandeans, an ancient religious sect that survives to the present day in small numbers, concentrated along the border between modern Iraq and Iran. Their religion features many elements common to Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. The Mandaeans believe they are descended directly from Adam, who received the religious instructions of the faith directly from god. The Mandaic alphabet includes 24 letters, starting and ending with the same character for a, reflecting their belief that all things in life return to their origin. Other such Mandaic Aramaic scrolls have been found to contain private religious incantations and invocations to the supreme deity for protection. This is one of the longest, most complete such scrolls to have survived and its secrets await a full scholarly translation.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2016
    16th Wednesday
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