The École Biblique et Archéologique Française has an extensive collection of artifacts discovered during excavations on its grounds, including those discussed in the accompanying article. In reviewing this material with author Gabriel Barkay and BAR editor Hershel Shanks, the École Biblique’s head archaeologist, Père Jean-Baptiste Humbert, recalled another artifact—an inscribed stone—from the collection that might possibly be Egyptian and thus lend additional support to Barkay’s theory. The object is about 5 inches high. We print here two photographs, the smaller one (below) taken by Shanks at the time and the larger one by professional photographer David Harris, who rephotographed the artifacts for this article. We print both because the slightly varying lighting picks up different elements in the carving on the stone. The upper right-hand tick is more noticeable in the photo below, as is the sign below the horizontal line and to the left of the vertical line.
To the untutored eye, the inscription looks somewhat like hieroglyphics, but the prominent Egyptologists to whom we showed it could not identify it as Egyptian. Northwest Semitic epigraphists were likewise stymied, as were cuneiformists.
So perhaps our readers can solve the puzzle. What is written on this unusual carved stone? Send your ideas to BAS, Attn: Stone, 4710 41st St. NW, Washington, DC 20016; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.