PHOTO ANDREW BURLINGAME, COURTESY LOUVRE
TIGHT SQUEEZE. After it came to the attention of European scholars in 1868, the Mesha Stele was broken into pieces. Prior to this, though, Yaqub Karavaca made a squeeze (paper-mache impression) of it. The squeeze, albeit imperfect and weathered, provides a unique testimony to the original inscription—portions of which are more discernible thanks to a backlit photo of the squeeze from 2018. The letters bet and waw (b–w of btdwd) have been traced over a detail of a high-resolution photo of the squeeze from 2019; the contested taw and dalet have been omitted. The image shows the various wrinkles and creases that appear on the squeeze’s surface, including the long crease (see the red rectangle) where Lemaire and Delorme see the lower side of a dalet.