Siloam Inscription

Siloam Inscription. By deror_avi, Attribution,

To the Editor-

A statement in the May-June issue (“Clumsy Forger Fools The Scholars—But Only For A Time,” BAR 10-03) needs correction. You state that the Siloam Inscription, discovered in June 1880, was chiseled out of the rock by “Turkish archaeologists.” The removal of the inscription was described shortly after it happened by H. Guthe, at that time the editor of the Zeitscrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins, in volume 13 (1890), pp. 286–288. He reported that it was done in July 1890 by some villagers of Silwan (later he speaks of only one villager) by orders of a “distinguished citizen of Jerusalem.” D. Diringer claims that it was a Greek who had given the order and that this man probably acted in collusion with a European museum to which he wanted to sell the inscription (Le iscrizioni antico-ebraiche palestinesi [Florence, 1934], p. 82, n. 3). Guthe furthermore reported in the article mentioned above that the Turkish governor apprehended the villager of Silwan who had chiseled out the inscription from the rack, and retrieved the stone which in the process of removal had broken into one large piece and five or six small pieces. Before it was shipped to the imperial museum in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the inscription was put on public display in Jerusalem for several months. Guthe also reports that the villager was expected to be sentenced to an imprisonment of six months but does not mention whether the “distinguished citizen of Jerusalem” in whose pay the crime had been performed was expected to receive any punishment.

Siegfried H. Horn

Pleasant Hill, California

Professor Horn is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology and History of Antiquity at Andrews University, and a member of BAR’s Editorial Advisory Board.—E