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The Rise and Fall of the Aramaeans in the Ancient Near East, from Their First Appearance until 732 BCE

New Studies on Aram and Israel

Gotthard G. G. Reinhold

In the early nineties, after Reinholds first publication »Die Beziehungen Altisraels zu den aramäischen Staaten in der israelitisch-judäischen Königszeit« an archaeological find came to light with the broken pieces of the early Aramaic written Têl Dan Stela, which has greatly illuminated the portrait of Aram and ancient history of Israel. The author offers a renewed overview to the Aramaean history on the foundation of the forced researches in the last 50 years. This begins with the early testifying of Aram in cuneiform sources of the 3rd/2nd Mill. B.C. from the Mesopotamian and Syrian area and ends with the decline of Aram-Damascus. The Volume incorporates a revised edition of the researches history and two excurses about the newest palaeographic results to the second line of the Bar-Hadad Stela of Aleppo in Syria on the base of precision photographs and computer-enhancements and presents a new transcription and translation of the Têl Dan Stela fragments. These are a certain basis to build on the royal line of sucession in Aram-Damascus and to illuminate their historical background in the Ancient Near East. Reinhold emphasizes, that the results of archaeology could always be adapted or replaced by recent discoveries; but he hopes that the «New Studies on Aram and Israel» will be served as a base for the future research of the Near Eastern Archaeology and History.

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5 Excursus I: The Melqart or Bir/Bar-Hadad Stela

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87 5 Excursus I: The Melqart or Bir/Bar- Hadad Stela215 The Aramaic text from a stela at the village of Bureij, just north of Aleppo in Syria, was first published by Maurice Dunand in 1939.216 With rather standard dedicatory contents, the text reports the stela was erected by a king named Bir- Hadad in honour of the god Melqart, who had heard and an- swered his petition. Uncertainty surrounds the identity of this Bir- Hadad— the direct equivalent of Ben Hadad in Hebrew— whose name clearly appears at the end of the first line and beginning of the second. Problems arise since there are at last three or possibly four different Aramaean kings mentioned in 1. and 2. Kings who bore this name. The question centers on which erected this stela. Alternatively, this figure may have been yet another, non- biblical king or some other great personality. If the text were whole and relatively undamaged, identification would have likely been straightforward. The rest of the second line does provide some identifying characteristics or titles, but a crucial juncture, the stone is poorly preserved, the text extremely difficult to read. As a result, a number of different readings217 have been offered for the rest of the second line, and thus identification of the king mentioned has varied considerably— 215 To the Melqart or Bir/Bar- Hadad stela see Wahid Khayyata, Guide to the Museum of Aleppo. Ancient Oriental Department, Aleppo: Arab National Printing House, 1977, Plate 25: The Phoenician God Melqart, Bridg...

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