A seal is a device for making an impression in wax, paper, or some other medium, including an embossment on paper, is the impression thus made. The original purpose was to authenticate a document, a wrapper for one such as a modern envelope, or the cover of a container or package holding valuables or other objects; the seal-making device is referred to as the seal matrix or die. If the impression is made purely as a relief resulting from the greater pressure on the paper where the high parts of the matrix touch, the seal is known as a dry seal. In most traditional forms of dry seal the design on the seal matrix is in intaglio and therefore the design on the impressions made is in relief; the design on the impression will reverse that of the matrix, important when script is included in the design, as it often is. This will not be the case if paper is embossed from behind, where the matrix and impression read the same way, both matrix and impression are in relief; however engraved gems were carved in relief, called cameo in this context, giving a "counter-relief" or intaglio impression when used as seals.
The process is that of a mould. Most seals have always given a single impression on an flat surface, but in medieval Europe two-sided seals with two matrices were used by institutions or rulers to make two-sided or three-dimensional impressions in wax, with a "tag", a piece of ribbon or strip of parchment, running through them; these "pendent" seal impressions dangled below the documents they authenticated, to which the attachment tag was sewn or otherwise attached. Some jurisdictions consider rubber stamps or specified signature-accompanying words such as "seal" or "L. S." to be the legal equivalent of, i.e. an effective substitute for, a seal. In the United States, the word "seal" is sometimes assigned to a facsimile of the seal design, which may be used in a variety of contexts including architectural settings, on flags, or on official letterheads. Thus, for example, the Great Seal of the United States, among other uses, appears on the reverse of the one-dollar bill. S. states appear on their respective state flags.
In Europe, although coats of arms and heraldic badges may well feature in such contexts as well as on seals, the seal design in its entirety appears as a graphical emblem and is used as intended: as an impression on documents. The study of seals is known as sigillography or sphragistics. Seals were used in the earliest civilizations and are of considerable importance in archaeology and art history. In ancient Mesopotamia carved or engraved cylinder seals in stone or other materials were used; these could be rolled along to create an impression on clay, used as labels on consignments of trade goods, or for other purposes. They are hollow and it is presumed that they were worn on a string or chain round the neck. Many have only images very finely carved, with no writing, while others have both. From ancient Egypt seals in the form of signet-rings, including some with the names of kings, have been found. Seals have come to light in South Arabia datable to the Himyarite age. One example shows a name written in Aramaic engraved in reverse so as to read in the impression.
From the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC until the Middle Ages, seals of various kinds were in production in the Aegean islands and mainland Greece. In the Early Minoan age these were formed of soft stone and ivory and show particular characteristic forms. By the Middle Minoan age a new set for seal forms and materials appear. Hard stone requires new rotary carving techniques; the Late Bronze Age is the time par excellence of the lens-shaped seal and the seal ring, which continued into the Archaic and Hellenistic periods, in the form of pictorial engraved gems. These were a major luxury art form and became keenly collected, with King Mithridates VI of Pontus the first major collector according to Pliny the Elder, his collection fell as booty to Pompey the Great. Engraved gems continued to be collected until the 19th century. Pliny explained the significance of the signet ring, how over time this ring was worn on the little finger. Known as yinzhang in China, injang in Korea, inshō in Japan, ấn giám in Vietnam, seals have been used in East Asia as a form of written identification since the Qin dynasty.
The seals of the Han dynasty were impressed in a soft clay, but from the Tang dynasty a red ink made from cinnabar was used. In modern times, seals known as "chops" in local colloquial English, are still used instead of handwritten signatures to authenticate official documents or financial transactions. Both individuals and organizations have official seals, they have multiple seals in different sizes and styles for different situations. East Asian seals bear the names of the people or organizations represented, but they can bear poems or personal mottoes. Sometimes both types of seals, or large seals that bear both names and mottoes, are used to authenticate official documents. Seals are so important in East Asia that for
Book of Jeremiah
The Book of Jeremiah is the second of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, the second of the Prophets in the Christian Old Testament. The superscription at chapter Jeremiah 1:1–3 identifies the book as "the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah". Of all the prophets, Jeremiah comes through most as a person, ruminating to his scribe Baruch about his role as a servant of God with little good news for his audience, his book is intended as a message to the Jews in exile in Babylon, explaining the disaster of exile as God's response to Israel's pagan worship: the people, says Jeremiah, are like an unfaithful wife and rebellious children, their infidelity and rebelliousness made judgement inevitable, although restoration and a new covenant are foreshadowed. Authentic oracles of Jeremiah are to be found in the poetic sections of chapters 1–25, but the book as a whole has been edited and added to by the prophet's followers and generations of Deuteronomists, it has come down in two distinct though related versions, one in Hebrew, the other known from a Greek translation.
The date of the two can be suggested by the fact that the Greek shows concerns typical of the early Persian period, while the Masoretic shows perspectives which, although known in the Persian period, did not reach their realisation until the 2nd century BCE. It is difficult to discern any structure in Jeremiah because the book had such a long and complex composition history, it can be divided into six sections: Chapters 1–25 Chapters 26–29 Chapters 30–33 Chapters 34–45 Chapters 46–51 Chapter 52 The background to Jeremiah is described in the superscription to the book: Jeremiah began his prophetic mission in the thirteenth year of king Josiah and finished in the eleventh year of king Zedekiah, "when Jerusalem went into exile in the sixth month." During this period, Josiah changed the Judahite religion, Babylon destroyed Assyria, Egypt imposed vassal status on Judah, Babylon defeated Egypt and made Judah a Babylonian vassal, Judah revolted but was subjugated again by Babylon, Judah revolted once more.
This revolt was the final one: Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple and exiled its king and many of the leading citizens in 586 BC, ending Judah's existence as an independent or quasi-independent kingdom and inaugurating the Babylonian exile. The book can be conveniently divided into biographical and poetic strands, each of which can be summarised separately; the biographical material is to be found in chapters 26–29, 32, 34–44, focuses on the events leading up to and surrounding the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 587 BCE. The non-biographical prose passages, such as the Temple sermon in chapter 7 and the covenant passage in 11:1–17, are scattered throughout the book; the poetic material is found in chapters 1–25 and consists of oracles in which the prophet speaks as God's messenger. These passages, dealing with Israel's unfaithfulness to God, the call to repentance, attacks on the religious and political establishment, are undated and have no clear context, but it is accepted that they represent the teachings of Jeremiah and are the earliest stage of the book.
Allied to them, probably a reflection of the authentic Jeremiah, are further poetic passages of a more personal nature, which have been called Jeremiah's confessions or spiritual diary. In these poems the prophet agonises over the apparent failure of his mission, is consumed by bitterness at those who oppose or ignore him, accuses God of betraying him. Jeremiah exists in two versions, a Greek translation, called the Septuagint, dating from the last few centuries before Christ and found in the earliest Christian manuscripts, the Masoretic Hebrew text of traditional Jewish bibles – the Greek version is shorter than the Hebrew by about one eighth, arranges the material differently. Equivalents of both versions were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, so, clear that the differences mark important stages in the transmission of the text. Most scholars hold that the Hebrew text underlying the Septuagint version is older than the Masoretic text, that the Masoretic evolved either from this or from a related version.
The shorter version became canonical in Greek Orthodox churches, while the longer was adopted in Judaism and in Western Christian churches. It is agreed that the three types of material interspersed through the book – poetic and biographical – come from different sources or circles. Authentic oracles of Jeremiah are to be found in the poetic sections of chapters 1–25, but the book as a whole has been edited and added to by followers an
A sphinx is a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion. In Greek tradition, the sphinx has the head of a human, the haunches of a lion, sometimes the wings of a bird, it is mythicised as merciless. Those who cannot answer its riddle suffer a fate typical in such mythological stories, as they are killed and eaten by this ravenous monster; this deadly version of a sphinx appears in the drama of Oedipus. Unlike the Greek sphinx, a woman, the Egyptian sphinx is shown as a man. In addition, the Egyptian sphinx was viewed as benevolent, but having a ferocious strength similar to the malevolent Greek version and both were thought of as guardians flanking the entrances to temples. In European decorative art, the sphinx enjoyed a major revival during the Renaissance; the sphinx image, something similar to the original Ancient Egyptian concept, was exported into many other cultures, albeit interpreted quite differently, due to translations of descriptions of the originals and the evolution of the concept in relation to other cultural traditions.
Sphinxes depictions are associated with architectural structures such as royal tombs or religious temples. The oldest known sphinx was found near Gobekli Tepe at another site, Nevali Çori, or 195 kilometres to the east at Kortik Tepe and was dated to 9,500 B. C; the largest and most famous sphinx is the Great Sphinx of Giza, situated on the Giza Plateau adjacent to the Great Pyramids of Giza on the west bank of the Nile River and facing east. The sphinx is located southeast of the pyramids. Although the date of its construction is uncertain, the head of the Great Sphinx is believed to bear the likeness of the pharaoh Khafra, while late 20th century geologists have argued that water erosion in and around the Sphinx enclosure proves the Sphinx predates Khafra, a claim, sometimes referred to as the Sphinx water erosion hypothesis. What names their builders gave to these statues is not known. At the Great Sphinx site, a 1400 B. C. inscription on a stele belonging to the 18th dynasty pharaoh Thutmose IV lists the names of three aspects of the local sun deity of that period, Khepera–Rê–Atum.
Many pharaohs had their heads carved atop the guardian statues for their tombs to show their close relationship with the powerful solar deity Sekhmet, a lioness. Besides the Great Sphinx, other famous Egyptian sphinxes include one bearing the head of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, with her likeness carved in granite, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the alabaster sphinx of Memphis, Egypt located within the open-air museum at that site; the theme was expanded to form great avenues of guardian sphinxes lining the approaches to tombs and temples as well as serving as details atop the posts of flights of stairs to grand complexes. Nine hundred sphinxes with ram heads, representing Amon, were built in Thebes, where his cult was strongest; the Great Sphinx has become an emblem of Egypt appearing on its stamps and official documents. In the Bronze Age, the Hellenes had trade and cultural contacts with Egypt. Before the time that Alexander the Great occupied Egypt, the Greek name, was applied to these statues.
The historians and geographers of Greece wrote extensively about Egyptian culture. Herodotus called the ram-headed sphinxes Criosphinxes and called the hawk-headed ones Hieracosphinxes. In Greek mythology, a sphinx is represented as a monster with a head of a woman, the body of a lioness, the wings of an eagle, a serpent-headed tail; the word sphinx comes from the Greek Σφίγξ from the verb σφίγγω, meaning "to squeeze", "to tighten up". This name may be derived from the fact that, in a pride of lions, the hunters are the lionesses, kill their prey by strangulation, biting the throat of prey and holding them down until they die. However, the historian Susan Wise Bauer suggests that the word "sphinx" was instead a Greek corruption of the Egyptian name "shesepankh", which meant "living image", referred rather to the statue of the sphinx, carved out of "living rock", than to the beast itself. There was a single sphinx in a unique demon of destruction and bad luck. According to Hesiod, she was a daughter of Orthrus and either Echidna or the Chimera, or even Ceto.
All of these are chthonic figures from the earliest of Greek myths, before the Olympians ruled the Greek pantheon. The Sphinx is called Phix by Hesiod in line 326 of the Theogony, the proper name for the Sphinx noted by Pierre Grimal's The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology; the sphinx was the emblem of the ancient city-state of Chios, appeared on seals and the obverse side of coins from the 6th century B. C. until the 3rd century CE. The Sphinx is said to have guarded the entrance to the Greek city of Thebes, asking a riddle to travellers to allow them passage; the exact riddle asked by the Sphinx was not specified by early tellers of the myth, was not standardized as the one given below until late in Greek history. It was said in late lore that Hera or Ares sent the Sphinx from her Aethiopian homeland to Thebes in Greece where she asked all passersby the most famous riddle in history: "Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?" She devoured anyone who could not answer.
Shlomo Moussaieff (businessman)
Shlomo Moussaieff was an Israeli jeweler, of Bukharan Jewish descent, the grandson of the wealthy gemstone trader Rabbi Moussaieff from Uzbekistan. Founder of Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd. he and his wife and business partner, were ranked No. 315 on the Sunday Times Rich List 2011, with a fortune estimated at £220 million. Moussaieff produced precious jewellery for international royalty and high society, including Western royalty as well as those from Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf states, he spoke Arabic fluently. In addition, Moussaieff was regarded as one of the world's top private collectors of antiquities associated with the Bible and ancient Near East, with a collection of 60,000 artefacts. Shlomo Moussaieff was the second of 12 children of Rehavia Moussaieff, a Jerusalem-born jewellery dealer, he was named after his grandfather, Shlomo Moussaieff, a wealthy Bukharan merchant, one of the founders of the Bukharim neighbourhood in Jerusalem in 1891. Rehavia, who traded in fine gems in Paris, introduced Shlomo to the jewellery trade at a young age.
Shlomo's youngest brother, Alon became a Jerusalem jewellery dealer. Several of his sisters own jewellery stores: Hannah in Jerusalem's King David Hotel, Naomi in London and Aviva in Geneva, his father, a strict disciplinarian, threw him out of the house at the age of 12 because he refused to apply himself to his studies. Moussaieff claims he was unable to read and write, he began sleeping in synagogues and the street, worked for a carpenter in Sanhedria. After hours, he hung around the Second Temple-era Tombs of the Sanhedrin in the nearby park. Inside the caves, which were open to the public, he discovered ancient coins that he sold to traders, he carved up lead coffins and sold the lead in the Armenian Quarter. Apprehended and beaten by an Arab policeman, he was brought before an Arab judge and sentenced to nine months in a reform school in Tulkarm, he asked to learn in a madrassa, where he found it easy to learn the Koran by heart, became familiar with Arab culture. In 1940 Moussaieff joined the Etzel.
Upon the recommendation of his Etzel leader, he joined the British Army at age 17 to fight Nazi Germany during World War II. Stationed in the Egyptian desert and Livorno, Italy, he searched through synagogue genizot during his free time and bought old Kabbalah manuscripts and marriage contracts written by well-known rabbis. In 1947 he rejoined the Etzel to battle the Arab Legion in the Old City of Jerusalem; when the city fell to the Jordanians in 1948, he was taken captive and imprisoned for one year in Transjordan. He married Alisa, an Austrian native, two weeks before he went into captivity. After his release, Moussaieff worked in his family's jewellery store and opened his own antique jewellery shop in downtown Jerusalem, he supplemented his income by smuggling "gold and antiquities from Jordan to Israel" in the 1950s. During this time he came in contact with Moshe Dayan, another confirmed antiquities smuggler, provided Dayan with artefacts in exchange for the use of Dayan's car for transporting smuggled goods.
In 1954 he was detained under suspicion of stealing 1,000 coins and other antiquities from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Moussaieff claimed he would not disclose the seller, he was released. In 1963 he moved to London and opened his first jewellery shop in the lobby of the London Hilton on Park Lane, he opened another store on London's Bond Street. Sales increased in 1967 when wealthy Arabs from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf began to buy jewelry in London, he and his wife operated the business in partnership. In addition to diamonds, coloured gemstones, natural pearls, Moussaieff re-set stones and pearls that he acquired at antique jewellery auctions into new jewellery designs. Today Moussaieff Jewellers Ltd. has two London stores and a shop at the Grand Hotel Kempinski Geneve in Switzerland. Moussaieff's clients included government figures such as Imelda Marcos and Princess Ashraf and Princess Shams of Iran, celebrities such as, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Stavros Niarchos, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Joan Collins, Bob Cummings, Shirley MacLaine, George Raft, Peter Sellers and Frank Sinatra.
In the late 1990s he developed a following among affluent Israelis. Moussaieff's collection included rare stones such as the Moussaieff Blue Diamond, a flawless 6.04 carat stone that Alisa purchased at a 2007 Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong for $7.98 million, setting a world record in price per carat, with a final bid of $1.32 million per carat. The Moussaieff Red Diamond, a trilliant cut, 5.11 carat red diamond purchased in 2001 or 2002, is the world's largest known red diamond. Moussaieff retired from the business in 2004 while his wife continued to oversee sales and acquisitions. Moussaieff was regarded as one of the foremost private collectors of antiquities of the Bible and ancient Near East. According to his own estimate, he owned 60,000 artefacts, specialising in ancient manuscripts and personal seals from the First and Second Temple periods. Since he was willing to pay large sums for antiquities that proved the historical authenticity of the Bible, antiquities experts believe that some fakes and forgeries crept into in his collection.
In 2004 Moussaieff testified as a victim in a forgery trial involving the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Inscription. Moussaieff had bought two ostracons from one of the defendants in the trial. In March 2012 the defendants were acquitted of the forg
Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity and religion are interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance. Jews originated as an ethnic and religious group in the Middle East during the second millennium BCE, in the part of the Levant known as the Land of Israel; the Merneptah Stele appears to confirm the existence of a people of Israel somewhere in Canaan as far back as the 13th century BCE. The Israelites, as an outgrowth of the Canaanite population, consolidated their hold with the emergence of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah; some consider that these Canaanite sedentary Israelites melded with incoming nomadic groups known as'Hebrews'. Though few sources mention the exilic periods in detail, the experience of diaspora life, from the Ancient Egyptian rule over the Levant, to Assyrian captivity and exile, to Babylonian captivity and exile, to Seleucid Imperial rule, to the Roman occupation and exile, the historical relations between Jews and their homeland thereafter, became a major feature of Jewish history and memory.
Prior to World War II, the worldwide Jewish population reached a peak of 16.7 million, representing around 0.7% of the world population at that time. 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the Holocaust. Since the population has risen again, as of 2016 was estimated at 14.4 million by the Berman Jewish DataBank, less than 0.2% of the total world population. The modern State of Israel is the only country, it defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state in the Basic Laws, Human Dignity and Liberty in particular, based on the Declaration of Independence. Israel's Law of Return grants the right of citizenship to Jews who have expressed their desire to settle in Israel. Despite their small percentage of the world's population, Jews have influenced and contributed to human progress in many fields, both and in modern times, including philosophy, literature, business, fine arts and architecture, music and cinema, science and technology, as well as religion. Jews have played a significant role in the development of Western Civilization.
The English word "Jew" continues Iewe. These terms derive from Old French giu, earlier juieu, which through elision had dropped the letter "d" from the Medieval Latin Iudaeus, like the New Testament Greek term Ioudaios, meant both "Jew" and "Judean" / "of Judea"; the Greek term was a loan from Aramaic Y'hūdāi, corresponding to Hebrew יְהוּדִי Yehudi the term for a member of the tribe of Judah or the people of the kingdom of Judah. According to the Hebrew Bible, the name of both the tribe and kingdom derive from Judah, the fourth son of Jacob. Genesis 29:35 and 49:8 connect the name "Judah" with the verb yada, meaning "praise", but scholars agree that the name of both the patriarch and the kingdom instead have a geographic origin—possibly referring to the gorges and ravines of the region; the Hebrew word for "Jew" is יְהוּדִי Yehudi, with the plural יְהוּדִים Yehudim. Endonyms in other Jewish languages include the Yiddish ייִד Yid; the etymological equivalent is in use in other languages, e.g. يَهُودِيّ yahūdī, al-yahūd, in Arabic, "Jude" in German, "judeu" in Portuguese, "Juif" /"Juive" in French, "jøde" in Danish and Norwegian, "judío/a" in Spanish, "jood" in Dutch, "żyd" in Polish etc. but derivations of the word "Hebrew" are in use to describe a Jew, e.g. in Italian, in Persian and Russian.
The German word "Jude" is pronounced, the corresponding adjective "jüdisch" is the origin of the word "Yiddish". According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition, It is recognized that the attributive use of the noun Jew, in phrases such as Jew lawyer or Jew ethics, is both vulgar and offensive. In such contexts Jewish is the only acceptable possibility; some people, have become so wary of this construction that they have extended the stigma to any use of Jew as a noun, a practice that carries risks of its own. In a sentence such as There are now several Jews on the council, unobjectionable, the substitution of a circumlocution like Jewish people or persons of Jewish background may in itself cause offense for seeming to imply that Jew has a negative connotation when used as a noun. Judaism shares some of the characteristics of a nation, an ethnicity, a religion, a culture, making the definition of, a Jew vary depending on whether a religious or national approach to identity is used.
In modern secular usage Jews include three groups: people who were born to a Jewish family regardless of whether or not they follow the religion, those who have some Jewish ancestral background or lineage, people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion. Historical definitions of Jewish identity have traditionally been based on halakhic definitions of matrilineal descent, halakhic conversions; these definitions of, a Jew date back to the codification of the Oral
Palaeography or paleography is the study of ancient and historical handwriting. Included in the discipline is the practice of deciphering and dating historical manuscripts, the cultural context of writing, including the methods with which writing and books were produced, the history of scriptoria; the discipline is important for understanding and dating ancient texts. However, it cannot in general be used to pinpoint dates with high precision. Palaeography can be an essential skill for historians and philologists, as it tackles two main difficulties. First, since the style of a single alphabet in each given language has evolved it is necessary to know how to decipher its individual characters as they existed in various eras. Second, scribes used many abbreviations so as to write more and sometimes to save space, so the specialist-palaeographer must know how to interpret them. Knowledge of individual letter-forms, ligatures and abbreviations enables the palaeographer to read and understand the text.
The palaeographer must know, the language of the text. Philological knowledge of the language and grammar used at a given time or place can help palaeographers identify ancient or more recent forgeries versus authentic documents. Knowledge of writing materials is essential to the study of handwriting and to the identification of the periods in which a document or manuscript may have been produced. An important goal may be to assign the text a date and a place of origin: this is why the palaeographer must take into account the style and formation of the manuscript and the handwriting used in it. Palaeography can be used to provide information about the date. However, "paleography is a last resort for dating" and, "for book hands, a period of 50 years is the least acceptable spread of time" with it being suggested that "the'rule of thumb' should be to avoid dating a hand more than a range of at least seventy or eighty years". In a 2005 e-mail addendum to his 1996 "The Paleographical Dating of P-46" paper Bruce W. Griffin stated "Until more rigorous methodologies are developed, it is difficult to construct a 95% confidence interval for NT manuscripts without allowing a century for an assigned date."
William M Schniedewind went further in the abstract to his 2005 paper "Problems of Paleographic Dating of Inscriptions" and stated that "The so-called science of paleography relies on circular reasoning because there is insufficient data to draw precise conclusion about dating. Scholars tend to oversimplify diachronic development, assuming models of simplicity rather than complexity". Anatolian hieroglyphs Cuneiform script Hittite cuneiform Egyptian hieroglyphs Proto-Sinaitic script South Arabian alphabet The Aramaic language was the international trade language of the Ancient Middle East, originating in what is modern-day Syria, between 1000 and 600 BC, it spread from the Mediterranean coast to the borders of India, becoming popular and being adopted by many people, both with or without any previous writing system. The Aramaic script was written in a consonantal form with a direction from right to left; the Aramaic alphabet, a modified form of Phoenician, was the ancestor of the modern Arabic and Hebrew scripts, as well as the Brāhmī script, the parent writing system of most modern abugidas in India, Southeast Asia and Mongolia.
The Aramaic script did not differ from the Phoenician, but the Aramaeans simplified some of the letters and rounded their lines: a specific feature of its letters is the distinction between d and r. One innovation in Aramaic is the matres lectionis system to indicate certain vowels. Early Phoenician-derived scripts did not have letters for vowels, so most texts recorded just consonants. Most as a consequence of phonetic changes in North Semitic languages, the Aramaeans reused certain letters in the alphabet to represent long vowels; the letter aleph was employed to write /ā/, he for /ō/, yod for /ī/, vav for /ū/. Aramaic writing and language supplanted Babylonian cuneiform and Akkadian language in their homeland in Mesopotamia; the wide diffusion of Aramaic letters led to its writing being used not only in monumental inscriptions, but on papyrus and potsherds. Aramaic papyri have been found in large numbers in Egypt at Elephantine—among them are official and private documents of the Jewish military settlement in 5 BC.
In the Aramaic papyri and potsherds, words are separated by a small gap, as in modern writing. At the turn of the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC, the heretofore uniform Aramaic letters developed new forms, as a result of dialectal and political fragmentation in several subgroups; the most important of these is the so-called square Hebrew block script, followed by Palmyrene and the much Syriac script. Aramaic is divided into three main parts: Old Aramaic Middle Aramaic, Modern Aramaic of the present day; the term Middle Aramaic refers to the form of Aramaic which appears in pointed texts and is reached in the 3rd century AD with the loss of short unstressed vowels in open syllables, continues until the triumph of Arabic. Old Aramaic appeared in the 11th century BC as the official language of t
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days corresponding to most of Iraq, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders. The Sumerians and Akkadians dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, it fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire. Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians; the division of Mesopotamia between Roman and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines.
A number of neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene and Hatra. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC, it has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics and agriculture". The regional toponym Mesopotamia comes from the ancient Greek root words μέσος "middle" and ποταμός "river" and translates to " between two/the rivers", it is used throughout the Greek Septuagint to translate the Aramaic equivalent Naharaim. An earlier Greek usage of the name Mesopotamia is evident from The Anabasis of Alexander, written in the late 2nd century AD, but refers to sources from the time of Alexander the Great. In the Anabasis, Mesopotamia was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria.
The Aramaic term biritum/birit narim corresponded to a similar geographical concept. The term Mesopotamia was more applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey; the neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are often included under the wider term Mesopotamia. A further distinction is made between Northern or Upper Mesopotamia and Southern or Lower Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia known as the Jazira, is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad. Lower Mesopotamia is the area from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and includes Kuwait and parts of western Iran. In modern academic usage, the term Mesopotamia also has a chronological connotation, it is used to designate the area until the Muslim conquests, with names like Syria and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date. It has been argued that these euphemisms are Eurocentric terms attributed to the region in the midst of various 19th-century Western encroachments.
Mesopotamia encompasses the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both of which have their headwaters in the Taurus Mountains. Both rivers are fed by numerous tributaries, the entire river system drains a vast mountainous region. Overland routes in Mesopotamia follow the Euphrates because the banks of the Tigris are steep and difficult; the climate of the region is semi-arid with a vast desert expanse in the north which gives way to a 15,000-square-kilometre region of marshes, mud flats, reed banks in the south. In the extreme south, the Euphrates and the Tigris empty into the Persian Gulf; the arid environment which ranges from the northern areas of rain-fed agriculture to the south where irrigation of agriculture is essential if a surplus energy returned on energy invested is to be obtained. This irrigation is aided by a high water table and by melting snows from the high peaks of the northern Zagros Mountains and from the Armenian Highlands, the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that give the region its name.
The usefulness of irrigation depends upon the ability to mobilize sufficient labor for the construction and maintenance of canals, this, from the earliest period, has assisted the development of urban settlements and centralized systems of political authority. Agriculture throughout the region has been supplemented by nomadic pastoralism, where tent-dwelling nomads herded sheep and goats from the river pastures in the dry summer months, out into seasonal grazing lands on the desert fringe in the wet winter season; the area is lacking in building stone, precious metals and timber, so has relied upon long-distance trade of agricultural products to secure these items from outlying areas. In the marshlands to the south of the area, a complex water-borne fishing culture has existed since prehistoric times, has added to the cultural mix. Periodic breakdowns in the cultural system have occurred for a number of reasons; the demands for labor has from time to time led to population increases that push the limits of the ecological carrying capacity, should a period of climatic instability ensue, collapsing central government a