Courtesy Dewey Beegle

The oldest known Aramaic inscription—dating to the 11th or 10th century B.C.—is incised in the back of this life-size statue of King Haddayish‘i, pictured here in the storerooms of the Damascus Museum. The statue is made of black basalt. Although the head was broken off, it has since been recovered, the only damaged parts being the nose and ends of the beard. The cuneiform inscription on the king’s skirt is in Assyrian.