Sumerian is largely logographic; each sign represents a word. Semitic cuneiform is largely syllabic; the signs represent syllables.


See “Interview With Syrian Ambassador,” sidebar to “Syrian Ambassador to U.S. Asks BAR to Print Ebla Letter Rejected by New York Times,” BAR 05:05. In 1948, Begin’s Herut party had asserted in its founding statement that the “Hebrew homeland … extends on both sides of the Jordan.” See Sasson Sofer, Begin: Anatomy of Leadership (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), pp. 126–127.


The name Yahweh, it should be noted, is a modern convention. The name is written only with the consonants YHWH in the Hebrew Bible and in other ancient West Semitic texts. By putting together scraps of evidence, scholars have concluded that the name was pronounced Yahweh. However, the evidence is by no means conclusive. The evidence is all post-Exilic and has to be read back into pre-Exilic times from this later material.


See Anson F. Rainey letter in Queries & Comments, BAR 03:02; quoted in “New Ebla Epigrapher Attacks Conclusion of Ousted Ebla Scholar,” BAR 06:03; and Rainey letter in Queries & Comments, BAR 06:05.



Giovanni Pettinato, “Ebla and the Bible,” Biblical Archaeologist (BA) 43 (1960), p. 208, Originally published as “Ebla e la Bibbia,” Oriens Antiquus 19 (1980), pp. 49–72.


Pettinato, “Testi cuneiformi del 3. millennio in paleocananeo rinvenuti nella campagna di scavi 1974 a Tell Mardikh-Ebla,” Orientalia 44 (1975), pp. 361–374; transl. as “Old Canaanite Cuneiform Texts of the Third Millennium,” in Sources and Monographs on the Ancient Near East 1/7 (Malibu, CA: Undena, 1979).


Pettinato, “Gli archivi reali di Tell Mardikh-Ebla. Riflessioni e prospettive,” Rivista Biblical Italian 25 I (1977), pp. 225–243, esp. p. 235; see also BAR Interviews Giovanni Pettinato,” BAR 06:05.


Mitchell Dahood, “Afterword: Ebla, Ugarit, and the Bible,” in Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla: An Empire Inscribed in Clay (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981), pp. 271–321. Originally published as Ebla: Un impero inciso nell’argilla (Milan: Arnaldo Mondadori, 1979).


Paolo Matthiae, Ebla: An Empire Rediscovered (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1977); rev. ed., Ebla: Un impero ritrovato (Turin: Giulio Einaudi, 1989). His most recent account in English is “Masterpieces of Early and Old Syrian Art: Discoveries of the 1988 Ebla Excavations in a Historical Perspective,” 1989 Mortimer Wheeler Archaeological Lecture, in Proceedings of the British Academy 75, pp. 25–56.


Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla.


Dahood, “Afterword: Ebla, Ugarit, and the Bible,” in English edition of Pettinato, The Archives of Ebla.


Pettinato, Catalogo dei testi cuneiformi di Tell Mardikh-Ebla, Materiali Epigrafici di Ebla I (Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale, 1979).


Pettinato edits the journal Oriens Antiquus; his series is Materiali Epigrafici di Ebla, in five volumes to date. Matthiae, Archi and their colleagues edit Studi Eblaiti and the series Archivi Reali di Ebla, Testi, in eight volumes to date.


Edmond Sollberger, “The So-Called Treaty between Ebla and ‘Ashur,’” Studi Eblaiti 3 (1980), pp. 129–155.


Alfonso Archi gave an overview of the Ebla tablets in “The Archive of Ebla” in Cuneiform Archives and Libraries, ed. Klaas R. Veenhof, Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Institut te Istanbul (Leiden: Nederlands, 1986), pp. 72–86.


See Pelio Fronzaroli, “Materiali per il Lessico Eblaita 1, ” Studi Eblaiti 7 (1984), pp. 145–190.


Archi, “Notes on Eblaite Geography,” Studi Eblaiti 2. 1 (1980), pp. 5, 6.


Ignace J. Gelb, “Ebla and the Kish Civilization,” in La Lingua di Ebla, ed. L. Cagni (Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale, 1981), p. 34.


Dahood “Afterword,” pp. 276–277


Dietz Otto Edzard, Hymnen, Beschwörungen und verwandtes (aus dem Archi L. 2760), Archivi Reali di Ebla V (Rome: Univ. degli Studi di Roma, “La Sapienza,” 1984), pp. 43–45.


According to oral tradition, the maxim of Sidney Smith, keeper of Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities at the British Museum, 1931–1948, and professor of ancient Semitic languages and civilizations at the University of London, 1948–1955.


Edzard, Hymnen, p. 259. Attention to details reveals the risks of those linguistic leaps. For example, in the fourth line Pettinato translates three cuneiform signs (zu-ur5-ra, variants zi-ur5-ra, zu-u9-ra) as “morning light.” Pettinato treats this as a Semitic, rather than a Sumerian, word. He identifies it with Hebrew zoµhar (splendor), or shahar (morning light) or soµhar (window). These are all different words, with different Semitic consonants, whose forms might be written similarly in the cuneiform of Ebla. Pettinato chose “morning light” because this seemed best in view of his translation of the previous line (“the light of the day was not, you created it”). The translation “morning light” was not based on any linguistic logic. But the previous line also involves a linguistic leap. Pettinato takes the name of the sun-god’s wife and translates it “light of the day.” If the name of the sun-god’s wife were certain, the translation “light of the day” might not be impossible. But it is not. Her name is Aya, written with the two signs a-a. Edzard, however, divided the signs of die line differently. Thus separated, the name Aya disappears.


Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives, ed. Alan R. Millard and Donald J. Wiseman (Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity Press, 1980; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1983).


Wiseman, “Alalakh,” in Archaeology and Old Testament Study, ed. D. Winton Thomas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), pp. 119–135.


Archi, “Die ersten zehn Könige von Ebla,” Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 76 (1986), pp. 213–217; see also “Studies in Eblaite Prosopography,” in Eblaite Personal Names and Semitic Name-Giving at Ebla, ed. Archi, Archivi Reali di Ebla VI (Rome: Univ. degli Studi di Roma, “La Sapienza,” 1988), pp. 212ff.


Matthiae, “Osservazioni sui Gioielli delle Tombe Principesche di Mardikh IIIB,” Studi Eblaiti 4 (1981), pp. 205–2225; “Two Princely Tombs at Tell Mardikh—Ebla,” Archaeology 33 (1980), pp. 8–17.