Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


More on puzzling words and spellings in Aramaic incantation bowls and related texts

Christa Müller-Kesslera1 c1

a1 Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena


The corpus of Aramaic incantation bowls and their related texts opens a new approach to the lexicographical study of the Aramaic dialects in Babylonia of late antiquity. Some of these texts were copies of “Vorlagen” that the scribes no longer understood. Nevertheless, they are more reliable text sources than one supposes. Errors, garbled spellings, miscomprehensions and misreadings are always feasible, and are typical phenomena of copied texts. In the case of new text variants one can approach the puzzling words and text passages anew. This study deals first and foremost with words that are obvious corrupted spellings or scribal errors caused by text transmissions. There are also cases of the breakdown of standard spellings and orthographic conventions from the dialect of “Vorlage” that hide the lexical assignment of a word. Since one is dealing here with the earliest text material of the late Aramaic period, they can be taken as a significant contribution to the placing of many lexemes in existing dictionaries.


  • Aramaic;
  • Incantation bowls;
  • Lexemes;
  • Mandaic;
  • Scribal errors