Monday, July 2, 2018

Death of Ada Yardeni

I recently learned of the sad passing of Ada Yardeni on 29 June 2018. She will be remembered as one of the foremost Hebrew paleographers of our time, who had a profound influence on the study of the Aramaic/Hebrew scripts, especially from the 5th century BCE through late antiquity. Her artistic talents gave her a unique calligraphic perspective on the analysis of ancient handwriting. Her famous Book of Hebrew Script has served as a helpful introduction and general guide to Hebrew paleography for many. And her more detailed and technical work in the Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt anTextbook of Aramaic, Hebrew and Nabatean Documentary Texts from the Judean Desert and Related Material remain essential reference tools for the Persian-period Aramaic scripts and later Jewish cursives. She has also contributed paleographic analyses of countless documents in the DJD series and other venues. In 2007, Yardeni rocked the world of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship by suggesting that about 50-100 scrolls in a round semiformal script from the Judean Desert were copied by a single prolific scribe (“A Note on a Qumran Scribe,” pages 287-298 in New Seals and Inscriptions: Hebrew, Idumean, and Cuneiform, edited by M. Lubetski [Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007]). I have personally been profoundly influenced by her work, and I have no doubt that her legacy will live on in the work of others as well.

Update 5 July 2018 - The Times of Israel has an interesting tribute to Yardeni, as well as a link to a 2017 interview in Hebrew.

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