NUMISMATIC

NOTES

AND

MONOGRAPHS

77

No.

ARAMAIC

GRAFFITI
OF

ON

COINS

DEMANHUR

BY
CHARLES

THE

AMERICAN
BROADWAY

C.

TORREY

NUMISMATIC
AT
NEW

1 56TH

SOCIETY
STREET

YORK
I937

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NUMISMATIC
NOTES AND MONOGRAPHS

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NumismaticNotes and Monographs
on subjects
is devotedto essaysandtreatises
to
medals
and
relating coins,papermoney,
Notes
andisuniform
withHispanic
decorations,
the
and Monographs
by
Hispanic
published
andwithIndianNotesand
ofAmerica,
Society
issuedby the Museumof the
Monographs
- HeyeFoundation.
American
Indian
PublicationCommittee
AgnesBaldwinBrett,Chairman
StephenH. P. Pell
ThomasO. Mabbott
EditorialStaff
PhilipNoe,Editor
Sydney
Editor
HowlandWood,Associate

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by
1937,
Copyright,
TheAmerican
Numismatic
Society

WAVERLY
INC.
PRESS,
MD.
BALTIMORE,

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ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS
OF DEMANHUR

BY
CHARLESC. TORREY

THEAMERICAN
NUMISMATIC
SOCIETY
BROADWAY
ATI56THSTREET
NEW
YORK
I937

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ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS OF
THE DEMANHUR HOARD
By Charles C. Torrey
In EdwardT. Newell'sexhaustive
studyof this
in 1923as No. 19
greatEgyptianhoard,published
Notesand Monographs,
he referred
of Numismatic
onpages148f.to theSemitic
whichareto be
graffiti
seenonsomeofthecoins,andmentioned
mypromise
to deal withthemat somefuturetime. It is this
thatI am nowattempting
to fulfil.
promise
on theseAlexander
The inscriptions
tetradrachms
are interesting
for more than one reason. The
evidencewhichtheyafford,
palaeographic
though
in quality. The charlittlein amount,is excellent
areall carefully
andfirmly
Aramaic,
acters,typically
and thetimeto which
incised,notmerely
scrawled,
fixed. The hoardwas
theybelongis verydefinitely
buriedin 318 B.C., and its coinshad beenminted
withinthepreceding
decade.
thereis importance
in the scrapof
Incidentally,
evidencegivenby thesegraffiti
as to theuse ofthe
Aramaiclanguageby theJewsofEgypt. Thisis a
subjecton whichlighthas beenneeded;and before
are presented,
the inscriptions
themselves
the relationoftheirtestimony
to theotherexisting
evidence
indicated.
maybe briefly
The presencein Egyptof largeand increasing
coloniesof Jews,fromthe timeof the Persianrule
1

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2

ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS

is ofcoursewellknown;butit is toooften
onward,
takenforgrantedthatthesecolonists
gave up the
use of theirnativelanguagewhentheymigrated
the Jews
fromPalestine. As a matterof history,
in all partsoftheearthand evento thepresent
day
havenotonlyheldfastto theirHebrewandAramaic
but also have foundit important
to use
scriptures,
ofspeech,withaccompanying
theirownspecialform
in theirintercourse
with
useoftheSemitic
alphabet,
one another. Thereis no a priorireasonforsupposingthat the Jewsof Egyptat any timewould
their
havedoneotherwise.Certainly
theypreserved
as a people;nevertheless,
andtheirsolidarity
religion,
thantheyappear
forreasonswhicharelessweighty
tobe- chief
amongthemthefactofthe"Septuagint"
- theviewhas
of the Hebrewscriptures
translation
to be
themselves
prevailedthat they permitted
way fromtheir
separatedin this very effective
in thehomeland,andindeed,inall western
brethren
Asia.
unitheviewwhichnowis well-nigh
To illustrate
considers
it certainthatthe
versallyheld: Cowley1
useoftheAramaic
languagein Egypthadceasedby
the year300 B.C., if not stillearlier. Lidzbarski2
the sameopinion.We readin Margolis
expressed
underPtolemyII are
and Marx,3whereconditions
described:"The youngergeneration
spoke Greek,
1Aramaic
the
Century
B.C.,pp.xiv,xv,
Papyri
of Fifth
200.
191,
2Ephemens
semitische
, II, 243f.
für
Epigraphik
3History
, p. 129.
People
oftheJewish

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

3

castingbehindthemthe Hebrewspeech,or the
Aramaicwhichthenhad begunto displaceHebrew
at home,at leastin theruraldistacts."
to say,thattheJewsinEgyptin the
It is needless
use of theGreek
Greekperiodmadeveryextensive
language;they could not have done otherwise,
and no one coulddoubtthe fact;but it is quite
anotherthingto say thattheyabandonedthelanguageof theirownpeople. Whyshouldtheyhave
done so? The Egyptian"Golah" was verylarge,
wereheldtogether
and itsseveralmaincommunities
ties
of
race
and
the
by
strongest
religion.They
a certaineffective
couldand did maintain
isolation,
as the extantliterature
plainlyshows. Nothing
moreto theirfeeling
of unityand
couldcontribute
ofa greatinheritance
thanthe
to theirconsciousness
of theirSemiticspeech,and this the
preservation
rendered
circumstances
veryeasy.
The questionis far too greatand too complex
tobe discussed
here;butthereexistseveralimportant
thattheAramaic
bitsofevidenceclearlyindicating
and amongthese,as will
speechwasnotabandoned,
oftheDemanhur
hoardfinda
be shown,ourgraffiti
place.
Untilthe presentcentury
verylittlewas known
about the use of Aramaicin Egypt. Documents
have
of any sortin thislanguagewouldnaturally
itis noteasytoseewhyorinwhatwayany
perished;
of themshouldhavebeenprenumber
considerable
have reexcavators
served. By raregoodfortune,
inupperEgypt,chiefly
at Elephanunearthed
cently

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4

ARAMAICGRAFFITI ON COINS

tine,a storeofAramaic
papyri,
mainly
Jewish,
dating
from
thefifth
B.C. It is thepurpose
ofthe
century
to dealonlywiththe
present
investigation,
however,
evidencecomingfromthe Hellenistictime. The
documentsin Aramaicbelongingto the Persian
on
period,whether
papyri,ostraca,or inscriptions
be leftout of accounthere,
stone,may therefore
forconvenience.
merely
The firstspecimenof clearlyJewishAramaic
writingon papyrusdatingfromtheGreekperiod
,
cameto the noticeof scholarsin 1907.4 This is a
Jewishbusinessdocumentof the Ptolemaictime,
notdated(thirdcentury?
see below),and preserved
theremonlyin part. Another
papyrus
fragment,5
nant of a Jewishlegaldocument,
appeareda few
years later. The few Aramaicpapyripreviously
known,publishedin the Corpus Inscriptionum
PartII, Vol.I, Nos. 144-153,might
or
Semiticarum,
not
be
ofJewish
andplainlydatefrom
might
origin,
thePersianperiod(seeabove).
We happento havealso fromEgyptoftheGreek
inAramaic
periodthreeostracainscribed
byEgyptian
The
of
from
first
theBerlinMuseum,
Jews.
these,
was publishedin LidzbarskieEphemer
is.6 It is a
memorandum
ofa longlistofnames,each
consisting
accompanied
by abbreviations
indicating
quantity
or value. The reasonwhythedealer,treasurer,
or
4SeeCowley,
Aramaic
B.C.,
oftheFifth
Papyri
Century
No.81.
6Ibid.,No. 82.
6II, pp.243-248.

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

5

stewardchosethiswriting
materialforhis account
as in the manysimilarcases,the
was presumably,
relative
oftherecord. Papyrusis easily
permanence
injuredor destroyed.The namesin thiscase are
HebreworAramaic,
butGreekandEgyptian
mostly
are also represented.
It is naturalto supposethat
the languageof the memorandum
was thatof the
where
it
was
written.
The date is uncommunity
the secondcentury
certain;Lidzbarskipreferred
is equallypossible,and
B.C., but thethirdcentury
to meseemsevenmoreprobable,
forseveralreasons.
The othertwoostraca,preserved
in the Library
at Strasbourg,
areevidently
ofthesamedateas the
preceding.They were publishedin Ephemer
is?
withplatesII and III. Oneofthetwois a private
a
letter,almostperfectly
preserved.It is chiefly
recordofthesending
ofmerchandise,
hencetheemof the ostracon.Aramaicwas evidently
ployment
theordinary
ofcommunication.
The other
language
memorandum
like
the
one
in
is
a
theBerlin
specimen
Museum(see above),a listof namesand amounts.
Finally,Lidzbarskicalls attentionto the obvious
between
theseostracaand the
pointsofresemblance
first
mentioned
papyrus
above, Cowley'sNo. 81.
All thesedocuments
seemto belongto about the
sametime,andperhapscamefromthesameplace.
Thereis evidenceof anothersort,morecomprehensivein character,
definitely
dated,and at present
Prefixed
to 2 Maccabees,
generally
unrecognized.
7in, pp.22-26.

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6

ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS

one of thebooksof theApocrypha,
are twoletters
to havebeensentfromtheJewsofJerupurporting
in Egypt. The
salemand Judeato theirbrethren
datesoftheletterscorrespond
to 143and 124B.C.,
and theGreekin whichtheyhavecomedownto us
hasineachcasebeenprovedtobe theresultoftranslationfromAramaic.8Howevertheselettersmay
be estimated
or interpreted,
to thecomtheytestify
monuse of Aramaicby the Jewsof Egyptin the
2nd century
B.C., and implythatthiswas,or was
ofcommunicabelievedto be,theordinary
language
tionwiththeJewsofPalestine.
Thereis also verypertinent
fromthe
testimony
1stcentury
A.D., namelyina passagefromtheNew
Acts21, 37f. The Romantribune
laid
Testament,
holdof Paul,whomhe supposedto be instigating
a
"Do youknowGreek?
riot,and asked,in surprise,
Aren'tyou thatEgyptianJewwhorecently
stirred
up thepeopleofJudeato sedition?"The incident
referred
to whichtheRomanofficer
is mentioned
by
bothin theAntiquities
,9and in theWarlQ'
Josephus
in questiondid comefrom
and the trouble-maker
Egypt. The tribunetookit forgrantedthat the
oftheJewsofEgyptwasAramaic,
ordinary
language
and that a fanaticof thisman'stypewouldhave
littleto do withGreek,and wouldhavehadno need
to learnit well.
8See theZeitschrift
Wissenfürdie alttestamentlicke
Vol.20 (1900),pp.225ff.
schaft
8,6.
»»XX,
II, 13,5.

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

7

The factssetforthin thepreceding
pagesprovide
forappreciating
the background
the evinecessary
dence now obtainedfromthe Demanhurhoard.
The graffiti
foundheretaketheirplaceas onemore
andgivewelcome
linkinthechainofwitnesses,
testisort. Nine of the
monyof a newand interesting
Alexander
tetradrachms
bear Aramaicinscriptions,
intended
as marksofidentification.
Their
evidently
whichmightindeedhavebeentaken
Jewishorigin,
forgranted,
is fortunately
madeveryclear. Aside
frompersonalnames,initials,and one monogram,
thereoccursthelegend,"He willestablish";and on
onecointheword'awwi,"mypeople,"is a countermarkregularly
incisedwitha punch. The importanceof thislatterfactis evident,forthe punch
cannothavebeencutforuse onlyin thisoneplace.
Beyondquestion,the nativespeech,the ordinary
written
language,of thosewhomadethesegraffiti
was Aramaic. This is evidenceforthe latterpart
ofthefourth
century
B.C., andat leastfortheearly
forthereis no reasonfor
partofthethirdcentury,
supposinga changeat just this time. Moreover,
as hasbeenshown,thereis goodevidence
thatthere
wasno changein thefollowing
centuries.The Jews
ofEgyptcontinued,
to use their
amongthemselves,
ownlanguage.
Oneofthecoinswhichweregivento meforexaminationbearsan inscription
whichproperly
fallsoutside the scopeof the presentinvestigation,
forthe
incisedcharacters
are not Aramaic,but Demotic
it well,nevertheless,
to
Egyptian.I have thought

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8

ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS

includethisspecimen,
bothas a realmember
ofthe
groupandalsobecauseofitsowninterest.
The accompanying
platesshowthe coins,tenin
while the
number,whichbear the inscriptions,
areshownin a table. In theoriginal
graffiti
photocanall be seendistinctly,
letters
graphstheinscribed
withtheaid ofa magnifying
especially
glass.
The Inscriptions
No. 1. This graffito,
unliketheothers,is on the
obverseof its coin,filling
thespacein frontof the
faceofAlexander.It is theonlyinstancein which
thecharacters
arenotAramaic. Professor
Nathaniel
of
J. Reich,of DropsieCollegeand the University
to whomI submitted
thephotograph
Pennsylvania,
and myownfacsimile
drawing
(thecoinitselfbeing
now in New York City),verykindlysentme his
transliteration
and a tentativetranslation.He
reads:hp-hpp nf(?), thatis,"Hphpthesailor(?)."
The inscription
on the coinis indistinct
at theleft
the
instance
of
as all the
hand;
only
uncertainty,
othergraffiti
aresharply
incisedthroughout.
No. 2. The inscription
is abovethearmofZeus,
in characters
in size,and
verywellmade,uniform
This
a
is
evenlyspaced.
obviously
propername,
*23Î, Zabnai,an abbreviated
Aramaicform,
appartothenametODÌ,Zabnā,withthe
entlyequivalent
othercommon
hypochoristic
ending,whichis given
in CIS II, No. 55. The lattermightindeedbe read
Zeblnā,as in Ezra 10,43.
No.3. In thiscaseit is notquitecertain
thatthe

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

9

whichappearin the drawing
were
threecharacters
a line,
tomakea word,fortheydo notform
intended
the
but are irregularly
placed. At the top,filling
Ö
the
below
the
the
is
above
arm,
;
arm,resting
space
onthethigh,
is Fl; a littlebelowthis,ontheleft,is 3.
The lettersare largeand distinct;and if theyare
takenin theorderdescribed
(theonlynaturalorder,
iftheyare supposedto forma word),theresulting
3 llD wouldbe thepassiveparticiple,
mahhab
, "beloved." This suggestsa propername,and suchit
probablyis; comparethe commonAramaicname
on thisroot,
Habībī,as wellas othernamesformed
withthesamemeaning.
No.4. Theinscription
is in theusualplace,above
areclear,andarranged
as in the
thearm;theletters
word1V,
facsimile.This can onlybe the familiar
theGrecian
"Javan,"designating
power,and at this
timeused foreitherthe Seleucidor the Ptolemaic
Kingdom.The reasonforits choiceas a markof
identification
maylie simplyin thefactthatitsfew
areveryeasilymade.
letters
No. 5. A singlecharacter,
n, above the arm.
theletter,
The markscrossing
thoughverydistinct,
see howeverbelow,
have no obvioussignification;
the noteon No. 6. The obverseof thiscoinbears
mentioned
aboveandto be
theincisedcountermark,
noticedagainpresently.
in theusualplace. ApNo.6. Threecharacters,
thisis theonlynaturalreading.
'Sí!; indeed,
parently
As thenameof theEgyptiandeityApis,it appears
in severalEgyptian-Aramaic
as an element
personal

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10

ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS

B.C.11 If this
namesof about the fourthcentury
a Jewish
personalname,as seems
represents
graffito
morelikelythatwehave
it is thenperhaps
probable,
of a theophoric
herethe abbreviation
compound,
ratherthan the simplename "Apls." It is quite
possiblethattheletterin No. 5, above,is theinitial
ofa similarname;and it maynotbe mereaccident
thatin bothcasestheletter11is crossedbydistinct
of the character
scratches.Mightthe defacement
be a conventional
protestagainsttheheathengod?
forAbed-Nebo,
and similarcases).
(cf. Abednego,
to
thatthepresence
It isperhaps
unnecessaryremark,
of
of thispagan elementimpliesno abandonment
ofYahweh.
theworship
an initial,
No. 7ě The singleletterD, presumably
the
arm.
above
the
occupying space
wellmade,filling
the
No.8. A curious
monogram,
oftheface. It may
spaceabovethearmandinfront
be uselessto attemptto analyzeit; but theeasiest
conjecture,
readingfromrightto leftand including
everystroke,yieldsTIED; and it is perhapsnota
written
thatIDD D is found,clearly
merecoincidence
as an Egyptian-Aramaic
personalname,in CIS II,
No. 148, wherethe Greekequivalentis givenas
2t7/ÍT.
whichappearon this
No. 9. The fourcharacters
but in a
not as in the drawing,
coinare arranged,
11See the vocabulary
in Lidzbarskie
Handbuch
der
nordsemitischen
phik,p. 279. Cf.alsoourNo. 1,
Epigra
above.

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

11

line. They are smalland verywell
perpendicular
made;typicalEgyptianAramaicletters.The readThe firstof theletingwhichtheygiveis
thesecond,
above
Zeus'
is
the
daleth
forehead;
,
ters,
in frontof his chin;the third,just abovethearm;
thefourth,
sight
justbelowit. It is naturalat first
the relativepronoun
to thinkof thisas containing
followed
and thepreposition,
bytieror nür, yielding
of Nēr,"
as
dīl-Nēr
sucha reading
, "property
in
as thatofAbner'sfather,
a Hebrewnamefamiliar
thestoryof David's time. Thisseemsimprobable,
ofthenamewouldhave
forthetwoletters
however,
the dil is quite useless.
foridentification,
sufficed
of thefourconsonants
No otherinterpretation
sugis not
and it maybe thattheinscription
gestsitself,
at all. If it is Persian,I haveat leastfound
Semitic
Reichseesinit
tocompare
withit; Professor
nothing
nothing
Egyptian.
On thesamefaceof thecoin,at theedgeon the
right,appearsthe character*7,3, a ratherlarge
downbetweenN and A
letter,the shankrunning
ofthenameAlexander.
menNo.5. bis.12 Thisveryinteresting
inscription,
tionedby Newell,p. 148,is unlikeanyoftheothers
butan incusemade
inthegroup. It is nota graffito,
whichmust
witha punch,and thusa countermark
used. It is theword''DJ?
havebeenfrequently
, "my
in thecheek
characters,
stamped
people,"inAramaic
12Shown
onPlateII.

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12

ARAMAIC GRAFFITI ON COINS
*

1
Aditei

*
A^I

-

_

¿Jnfi
i
l3Ì$

nA
r

1
4

ī

ýr
io

SUà

to
"IT'

§S9

l77^L

^

*7^

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OF THE DEMANHUR HOARD

13

This seemsto give clearevidence
of Alexander.13
by the two
(to be put besidetheevidenceafforded
to 2 Maccabees)thatthe "official"
lettersprefixed
colonyin Egypt,in the
languageofthegreatJewish
was
the
Aramaic.
lastcenturies
B.C.,
No. 10. This specimen,also, is of morethan
ordinaryinterest.Instead of a name,or initial,
it bearsthe words(Aramaic):D'p* IH,
or symbol,
"He
willestablish."The pronoun,
doubthüyëqlm
,
to the God of Israel,is in the space
less referring
theeagleandthecornucopia.Belowthis,in
between
theusualspaceabovethearm,is theverb,withthe
as in thedrawing.
letters
arranged
BehindtheheadofZeusis thesinglecharacter
p,
in a formwhichis unusual,thoughnotunexampled
elsewhere.
13SeeNewelPs
N. N. & M. 19,PlateVIII,
monograph,
hereinPlateII.
No.6,as wellas thereproduction

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DEMANHURGRAFFITI

PLATEI

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DEMANHURGRAFFITI

PLATEII

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