Ancient Place Names in the Land of Israel Preservation and History

9789654810340: Ancient Place Names in the Land of Israel Preservation and History

This is an updated version of the English edition (text is in Hebrew!).

That many ancient toponyms in the Holy Land have survived for thousands of years, right up to modern times, is a remarkable and unique phenomenon, unparalleled in neighboring countries, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, or Asia Minor. Preserved toponymy provides a basis for research in the historical geography of the country and is also of major importance for studies in the history of Hebrew and Aramaic, being a kind of ancient "recording" of an archaic linguistic inventory. Surprisingly, however, despite the importance of this subject, there have been very few attempts to "put things in order," and for many years there have been no rules that would help us to understand the changes that occur in toponyms. Accordingly, the prevailing situation in the field of historical geography is one of near-anarchy; lacking hard and fast rules, scholars could find support for their identification of an ancient toponym in any somewhat similar Arabic name. In order to break this vicious circle of conjectures founded on dubious linguistic assumptions, producing "preservation laws" themselves provides an alleged basis for historical identification, and so on, Elitzur has tried, first and foremost, to lay down objective criteria for the selection of positive identifications. On this basis, he has built up a corpus of 177 toponyms representing positive or almost-positive identifications, on which this study is based. Then, 60 of these toponyms are reviewed in depth, tracing their documentation in all languages, throughout recorded history; in the process, the author has tried to locate and analyze whatever changes occurred and when. The linguistic conclusions from the material follow, arranged according to the standard layout of grammar books. Innovative conclusions and ideas in the context of historical geography that emerge in the course of the study are listed alphabetically in the last part of the volume.

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