Jeremy Smoak Publishes in Near Eastern Archaeology

Published: November 21, 2017

“Reading and Writing in the Dark at Khirbet el-Qom: The Literacies of Ancient Subterranean Judah,” by Alice Mandell and Jeremy Smoak is now available in the latest edition of Near Eastern Archaeology.

How did ancient Israelites and Judeans interact with inscriptions located in subterranean contexts such as tombs, tunnels, and caves? What roles did writing hold in the darkness of such places? The present article argues that a multimodal approach to literacy needs to be applied to the study of such inscriptions in order to understand how they communicated to audiences underground in the dark. We challenge traditional approaches to the study of tomb inscriptions in ancient Judah, most of which have studied them for what they reveal about historical grammar and the development of orthography. We argue that a better understanding of how audiences interacted with such inscriptions proceeds from a consideration of the visual grammars of tomb aesthetics, architecture, and the funerary objects in these spaces. This context is what enabled ancient audiences to decode the meaning of inscriptions in tomb complexes.

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