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New Safaitic inscriptions from Jordan - article ; n°3 ; vol.72, pg 401-414


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Syria - Année 1995 - Volume 72 - Numéro 3 - Pages 401-414
14 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



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Published 01 January 1995
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Fawwaz H. Khraysheh
New Safaitic inscriptions from Jordan
In: Syria. Tome 72 fascicule 3-4, 1995. pp. 401-414.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Khraysheh Fawwaz H. New Safaitic inscriptions from Jordan. In: Syria. Tome 72 fascicule 3-4, 1995. pp. 401-414.
doi : 10.3406/syria.1995.7452
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/syria_0039-7946_1995_num_72_3_7452NEW SAFAITIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM JORDAN
Université du Yarmouk, Irbid (Jordanie)
Most scholars agree that Safaitic inscriptions were written between the 1st century B.C. and the 3rd/
4th century A.D., although historical hints in the Safaitic inscriptions were few and unclear.
Two of these inscriptions, which are discussed in this article, mention, and for the first time, two
unspecific historical events which are documented :
— snt mt mlk nbt: the death year of one of the Nabataean kings ;
— snt brh qsr Ibsry: the year in which Caesar left Bosra.
The paper also examines four other inscriptions that were written by members of the Safaitic tribe
'Amrat, in a script characterized by being clear and specific and known as a square or monumental script
distinguishing it from other new Safaitic scripts. In these inscriptions, names of some new places are men
tioned which are ly and fhyt in addition to new information about names that have occured in other ins
criptions which are already published such as Vrw and snt gls.
During two field expeditions that I made in February 1988 and July 1990, in the
region of Wâdï al-Gusayn, ca. 36 km west of al-Rwaysid (H 4), many Safaitic and
Islamic inscriptions were discovered and registered from 48 cairns, which are located
around the wâdï. *
1. The first fieldwork which took place in February 1987 and 1993, as well as the surveyor Mr. Muaffaq
22-23 1988 gathered the following: Mrs Jacqueline Bataynah and the photographer Mr. Hussein Deybajah,
(both from I.A.A. at Yarmouk). Calzini (I.S.M.E.O., Rome), Rafat M. Hazim (Epigra
The second fieldwork took place from 29/6 until 4/8/ phy Department, Institute of Archaeology and Anthro
1991, with the participation of graduate students from pology at Yarmouk University-Irbid), Mr. Mohamad
the Epigraphy Department and the assistance of A. Ababnah (M.A., Research assistant in the Epigraphy
Department), to whom I wish to express my gratitude M.A. Ababnah, M. Bataynah and H. Deybajah.
for his assistance during all of my. fieldwork between 402 SYRIA [LXXII
There is also a big number of inscriptions which were found either on the rocks
beside the wâdï, or on stones around the cairns, which do not belong to the cairns.
Three of these inscriptions in addition to a fourth one from al-§ubaykah, 2 ca. 20 km
north of al-Safâwy (H 5), are written by people of the tribe of 'Amrat, 3 in a special
kind of script, and also contain some new historical and lexical hints.
Inscription no. 1 (fig. 1)
This inscription was found in a cairn located ca. 8 km north of Bagdad highway
and also ca. 3 km southeast of Hirbat al-Subaykah, the first line is written at the right-
hand top corner and the other lines are running boustrophedon.
1 - Ihnn bn ldr 7 «For Hunayn son of 'Àdir'ël
2 - d*l lmrt wg from the tribe of 'Amrat and he stayed
home to recover from the
3 - Is mn *dmt snt fracture on his head, the year
4 - mt mlk nbt the Nabataean king died.
Hunayn, attested in Safaitic and Thamudic, 4 Nabataean,5 Palmyrene6 and Arabic7
as a personal name.
'Àdir'ël, occurs mostly in Safaitic and Lihyanite. 8
And he sat down from. The expression occurs in Safaitic inscriptions already
published as well as £ls and gist, e.g.
HSMiwglsmn >n(fi)
CSNS 1004: wgls mn wrl
2. The fieldwork in al-Subaykah took place between 3. lMRT, occurs in some inscriptions as a tribal name,
19/10 and 13/11/1992, for more information, see see G.L. HARDING, "The Safaitic Tribes", Abhath 22
Fawwaz al Khraysheh and others: "Mausim al-'amal al- (1969), p. 21, and J.T. MlLIK, "La tribu de Bani 'Amrat
maydâny al-'auwal fi mantiqat al Subaykah wamâ en Jordanie de l'époque grecque et romaine", ADA] 24
gàwarahà 1992 ", Newsletter of the I.A.A., Yarmouk (1980), p. 41-54.
Universty, Irbid no. 14 (1993), p. 10-15. 4. See HIPn., p. 206.
The teamwork was, M.A. Ababnah, H. Deybaja, were is 5. KnPn., p. 89.
Mr. Mahmoud al-Ruwsan and Mr. Ahmad al-Ajlouny, 6. SPPn., p. 89.
from the Epigraphy Department joined us during this 7. Gamh. II, 33 b.
fieldwork, and were of good assistance, therefore I 8. HIPn., p. 412.
express my thanks to them both. NEW SAFAITIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM JORDAN 403 1995]
Fig. 1. — Inscription no. 1. 404 SYRIA [LXXII
MAC 30: wglst lfy
WAM5: wglsfrd
Jas 1 23 b : wgls whll
In these inscriptions, Safaitic gls can only be like Arabic galasa " sat down ", but we
found that V.A. Clark, had translated Safaitic wgls mn wrl: u and he collected the fat of
a lizard". Furthermore, S. Abbadi has recently republished CSNS 1 004, 1 008 and oth
ers CSNS inscriptions, 9 where he stated that these inscriptions contain the Beduin cus
tom to exile any person who made trouble or problems with his own tribe, to the
territory of another tribe, until he has solved his problem and appeased the member of
his tribe. The Beduin nowadays call this galwah ancj [n Classical Arabic £alâ}: "exile".
It is clear that V.A. Clark and S. Abbadi had overlooked the existence of gls in Safaitic
and therefore, they thought that gl and smn occur in the Safaitic inscriptions which
V.A. Clark had published, but we see that this reading and translation from both schol
ars should be reexamined.
Is new in Safaitic. The Arabic word ^udmat means that someone was hit on the
head causing it to bleed with much pain. 10
The year the Nabataean king died, is new in Safaitic, as an expression.
Year, and also lm are attested in more than 160 Safaitic inscriptions.11
As well as myt\ died, are common in Safaitic. 12
King, occurs in many Safaitic inscriptions, e.g.
SI] 91 1... sntmythmlk
WH 1 900 a... snthrbhmlk
LP 326 ...sntsrhmlk
CIS 2746 ...sntwhbhmlk
9. Cf. S. ABBADI, "al-galà* cinda al-Safawiyin al- 11. Cf. F. Khraysheh, Safaitische Inschriften mitjahr-
'Arab", Dirasat (published by the University of Jordan) sangaben, Festschrift Maria Hôfner, zum 90. Geburtstag,
15 (1988), p. 7-17. forthcoming.
10. See IBN MANZOR, Lisân Al-'Arab, Cairo/Vbl. 12, 12. Cf. W.W. MÛLLER, " Some Remarks on the
nd. 98. Safaitic", PSAS 10 (1980), p. 67-74. NEW SAFAITIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM JORDAN 405 1995]
Even for such a common word like mlk which is also a common Semitic word,
scholars have had different interpretations for it. E. Littmann translated Safaitic snt qns
hmlk 7 lwd in LP 664, with : " In the year in which the Emperor fined the tribe of
'Awidh ", whereas A. Jamme, believed that the word mlk in the Safaitic inscriptions can
only have meant the title of the tribal chieftain the "lord". 13 Winnett-Harding have
really given the right meaning for it in Safaitic, in their commentary to WH 387, when
they said : " The king in the Safaitic inscriptions always seems to denote the Nabataean
ruler; but there is either WH 387 or SIJ 911 which might serve as a clue for which king
is meant ".
Unfortunately even this new text doesn't give any clue about which Nabataean king
is meant, but it assures us that the Safaites were aware of the Nabataean kings, and they
had written some of their inscriptions during the Nabataean period, whereas one can
argue that the nbt in Safaitic might mean a tribe or a social group in inscriptions like e.g.
WH 3 736 . . . gnmt m rhy wnbt whtult
CIS 2670 ... snt wsqdHrhy nbt
It is also noteworthy to mention, that V.A. Clark has published an inscription,
where the author of it states that he is a Nabataean, the Safaitic written inscription
reads: Idrb bn qn hnbtfyj14
Inscription no. 2 (fig. 2)
The inscription was found during the first expedition in a cairn located ca. 4 km
north of Bagdad highway and ca. 2 km southeast of the al-Gusayn wells. The stone
itself looks like a funerary stone. The script style of the first line shows a very fine and a
careful hand of the so-called square script, but the other lines show a different style of
the script, which looks more like the so-called Thamudic E, Tabuki Thamudic, or
South Safaitic, 15 especially the sign of the letter D in the name RDWT. 16
The first line is engraved at the right top corner of the stone and the inscriptions
run boustrophedon.
1 - Ihrn bn sly dH *mrt «For Harrân son of Sulay from the tribe
of 'Amrat.
13. Cf. A. JAMME, " Safaitic mlk ' Lord ' of the Matakh", in: M.M. IBRAHIM (éd.), Arabian Studies in
Tribe", Orientalia39 (1970), p. 504-511. Honour ofMahmud Ghul, Wiesbaden 1988, p. 37-55
14. CSNS 661. and also M.C.A. MACDONALD, "Inscriptions Safaitic"
15. Cf. Vincent A. CLARK, "Three Safaitic Stones in D.N. FREEDMAN (éd.), The Anchor Bible
from Jordan ", ADAJ 24 (1980), p. 125-128. Dictionary III, 1992, p. 418-423.
E.A. Knauf, "Sudsafaitisch", ADAJ 27 (1983), p. 587- 16. Cf. Clark 1979, p. 74.
596, G.M.H. KING, "Some inscriptions from Wâdï 406 SYRIA [LXXII
2 - wqyz m c r(lwt bs And he spent the dry season with
Radwat in the water
3 - qytfnyt wnzrfhlt canal of FNYT. And he looked out, Oh,
4 - slm give (him) peace.
It is noteworthy, that the sign of T in sqyt and It, looks different from the sign of T
in Kmrt, r(lwt andjhyt. There are also two other short Safaitic inscriptions in the same
stone (nos. 3 and 4 below).
Inscription no. 3
This one is between the first two lines and starts at the right-hand corner, where I
can only read :
1 - I's b(n) »... «For 'Aus so(n) of ...
Inscription no. 4
This second one is longer, but the end of it is not clear because the stone is badly
defaced at the bottom. It is written between the third and the fourth lines of the middle
inscription, which was surely before nos. 3 and 4. This inscription started at the
top left-hand corner and ran downward boustrophedon, it reads :
1 - lm(t)y bn *($) d'lq «For Ma(tti)y son of 'Au(s) from the
tribe of Qu
2 - s*m... sam...
Occurs in Safaitic as tribal name 17
Harrân is still known as an Arabic name among the Bedouin in Jordan, it is also
attested in Safaitic as a personal name18 as well as a place name. 19
17. See Harding 1969, p. 22. 19. E.g. CIS 216, WH 238.
No2-4 cm.
Fig. 2. — Inscription no. 2. SYRIA [LXXII 408
See the Arabic name Sulay20 and Safaitic sly.21 The name Uy occurs also in
Nabataean22 and Palmyrene inscription. 23
And he spent the dry season. 24
With : occurs also in Safaitic inscriptions previously published. 25
Radwat, attested in Harding Index only as a Safaitic personal name, 26 Rl4y and
Radwat (Radwah)iboth are personal names among the Arabs today.
The reading of this word is surely, sqyt: it might mean a water canal (a small one)
and it occurs for the first time in Safaitic.
It occurs also in no. 6, where it should be understood as a (place) name too.
Inscription no. 5 (fig. 3)
The inscription was found during the first expedition in 1988. The cairn where the
stone of this was found is located between Wâdï Miqât and Wâdï al-Gusayn
ca. 1 km north of Bagdad highway and about 6 km west of the Miqàt police station.
The script of this inscription represents a nice style of script and a careful work,
therefore I took the stone to the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at Yarmouk
University to put it in the Museum of the Jordan Heritage there.
The first line is written in the middle of the stone from left to right and the second
one runs boustrophedon. It reads :
1 - Igrm bn It bn srmt d «For (5arm son of Layt son of Sârimat
from the
2 - 7 lmrt wqyz ly tribe of 'Amrat. And he spent the dry
season in CY.
20. Cf. YàQûT Al-Hamawiy, Mu'gam al-Buldân, hrsg. 24. Cf. M.C.A. MACDONALD, " The Seasons and
von F. Wustenfeld, Leipzig 1866-1970, III, p. 129. Transhumanc in the Safaitic Inscriptions", JRAS, Series
21. HIPnp. 327. 3, 2, 1 (1992), p. 1-11.
22. KnPn. p. 174. 25. E.g. CIS 65 ...wrstm1 ^rb.
23. SPPn. p. 1 14. 26. HIPn., p. 280. NEW SAFAITIC INSCRIPTIONS FROM JORDAN 409 1995]
No. 5
Fig. 3. — Inscription no. 5.