Ada Yardeni

With faded ink and missing letters, the Qeiyafa Ostracon is a five-line text on a 6-by-6-inch piece of broken pottery. It is written in Early Alphabetic script, prior to the development of Phoenician script from which Hebrew script was derived. Note the differences in the same letters, a characteristic of very early inscriptions. For example, the stance of the ’alep in line 2 is 180 degrees different from the ’alep in line 4 (in red). In line 2 the šin (in blue) appears twice. One appearance (only partially preserved at the end of the line) is like the typical Phoenician and Old Hebrew stance of this letter, but the same letter is rotated 90 degrees at the beginning of the line. The pe (in yellow) near the beginning of line 2 faces right, but at the end of the line the same letter faces left. Finally, the bet (in green) in line 1 faces down and in line 4, if it even is a bet, faces up.