In “What’s an Egyptian Temple Doing in Jerusalem?” BAR 26:03, we published two photos of a mysterious inscribed stone discovered at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française in Jerusalem. Its markings seem to be ancient Egyptian, but experts in hieroglyphics have not been able to decipher them. Similarly, specialists in Northwest Semitic have not been able to identify them. We asked readers for their ideas, and, as we expected, we received many suggestions. A sampling follows.—Ed.

• If you turn the picture upside down, you have the Chinese symbol for peace. Chinese writing existed 3,500 years ago. I’m certainly not saying that’s what the inscription is. It’s probably just a crazy coincidence, but you never know.

J.R. Drause

Little Rock, Arkansas

• It looks like the Linear B symbol for i, with the addition of a crossbar on the base.

E.Y. Robinson

Altadena, California

• The figure is a Christian cross next to an empty tomb. The tick marks at the top are depictions of the universal signal of joy and wonderment, giving thanks to God, where one holds one’s hands high. They also depict the rays of light given to mankind that emanate from this act of the one who rose from the dead, much as sunbeams appear when viewed straight on. The joy of the Light of the World from the Resurrection is central to Christian belief.

The line at the base is, I believe, similar to lines commonly found on early crosses, representing the hill. Such a line is related to the lower crossbar found from earliest times on Orthodox crosses.

William Bambeck

Parma, Ohio

• The markings are the expression of a pious man. The center cross set upon the baseline refers to the crucifixion on Golgotha. The two radiating lines above the crossbar signify the holiness of the person who was on the cross. The square at the left refers to the tomb near the hill, with the door open to show that it was empty.

Robert J. Knapp

Lowell, Michigan

• My suggestion is that this is an early Byzantine period inscription, perhaps a dedication or votive offering, with a cross inscribed upon it.

The cross could be read as a Greek I, standing for Iesous (Jesus). The two lines at 11 o’clock and 2 o’clock are suggestive of a Greek chi, or X, for Christou (Christ)—in other words, the Chi-Rho. The U on its side in the lower left quadrant would be a form of sigma, or Greek S, standing for Soter (Savior).

Iain S. Maclean

Department of Philosophy and Religion

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia

• The stone appears to be a cast for a branding device. Such devices have been used for centuries for branding cattle. I stand to be wrong, but that’s life.

Tom Reynolds

Lubbock, Texas

• Could this be just another variation of the cross, which was an object of worship in many pagan cultures, including Egypt, long before Jesus Christ was born? (See Rev. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, 2nd American ed. [1959].)

Patricia Federici Fiorina

Riverdale, New Jersey

• Perhaps the item is an oil lamp with flames.

Edward J. Rockwood

Shaker Heights, Ohio

• I immediately saw it as the bottom portion of an ankh. I think the top part of the stone was broken off, and the loop of the ankh went with it.

Fred Acquistapace

Santa Rosa, California

• When I turned the page upside down to view the engraved character, I immediately remembered some very similar characters in a book I had read entitled Genesis and the Mystery Confucius Couldn’t Solve (St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1994).

The character on the stone may not be an Egyptian hieroglyphic character, but rather an ancient Chinese pictograph dating back to about the third millennium B.C.E.

One of the pictographic radicals for the Supreme Being is similar to the one on the stone: . Some other radicals referring to the Supreme Deity are written in such a way as to depict the triune Deity: .

Leo Poirier

Stoneham, Massachusetts

• It looks simply like an offering table with a cup or basket next to it.

Travis Goodsell

Riverton, Utah

• While my glyph-deciphering ability is minimal, I do have over 40 years experience decoding Rx-oglyphs. In addition to my pharmacy degree, I hold a B.A. in religious studies.

One photo shows a stick man with severe cervical protrusions. The character below the horizontal line and to the left is in suspended free fall. All quite mysterious. The second photo [not shown here] solves the mystery. The stick man has thrown both arms in the air in response to a command or threat.

So, what’s it say? It says, “All right, drop the Chulupa!”

Peter J. d’Hulst

Morgan, Utah

• It looks like two letters—one Aramaic (c. 1000 B.C.)—the chaf superimposed on the zayin; the symbol on the left might be a beit in (South Semitic) ancient South Arabic, first millennium B.C.E., which could have been on the stone before the Aramaic was added.

A wild guess is that these letters might be the beginning of the word bezikaron (in memory of).

Rhoda H. Kane

Wesley Chapel, Florida

• It appears to be a Crusader, probably Templar, cross. The cross is shown on a base, typical of a movable (perhaps altar) cross, and displays two rays at the top.

I saw numerous examples of such cruciform graffiti on ancient Egyptian temples when I was in Egypt.

Jarèd Allen Fogel

Statesboro, Georgia

• This is an example of an ancient alphabetic script known in Libya (see The Alphabet, vol. 2, by D. Diringer [1968]). The pictograph presents a stylized picture of a papyrus reed in bloom. It is formed out of four letters of the Libyan alphabet, which render the name “Amon.”

Brent Ashby

Ventura, California

• It looks like the type of writing that you see on Japanese prints. Is it possible that this is an ancient good luck charm that some trader brought home from the Far East, or possibly the name of an oriental person who died in the Holy Land and was memorialized by having his or her name carved in stone (an oriental concubine of King Solomon’s perhaps)?

Sue Hoyt

Tampa, Florida