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Aramaic in Greek script: epigraphy and code-switching in the Roman Near East

De l’araméen en lettres grecques

Épigraphie et interférences linguistiques au Proche-Orient sous l’Empire romain

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Published on Friday, October 22, 2021 by Céline Guilleux

Summary

The international round table follows two Lyon symposia on the epigraphy of the Near East (2015) and Jordan (2017). It will bring Hellenists into dialogue with specialists in Semitic languages in order to draw up an assessment of the linguistic interference between Aramaic and Greek in the Near East during the Roman Empire. Together with a workshop devoted to the inscriptions of the Bayt Ras tomb, this scientific event will provide a unique opportunity to put into perspective the ongoing study of this exceptional monument.

Announcement

Organisation

International round table organised by Julien Aliquot, Pierre-Louis Gatier and Jean-Baptiste Yon (CNRS Hisoma, Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée), Lyon University, salle Caillemer, 15 quai Claude Bernard, 69007 Lyon, on Friday, November 12, 2021

Argument

Under the Roman Empire, Greek established itself as the main language of power and culture in ancient Syria, gradually confining Aramaic to the role of vernacular language. Greek epigraphy in the Near East, however, attests to the use of words and expressions directly derived from Aramaic and its various dialects (Nabataean, Palmyrene, Edessan) more than three centuries after the conquest of Alexander the Great. Although the use of Greek or Latin vocabulary in Semitic languages is fairly well known and studied, the opposite phenomenon has only recently begun to attract the attention of researchers. A study entitled “De l’araméen en grec”, published in the Mélanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph in 2007, brought together and analysed a first series of relevant testimonies. In addition to noting the variety of records gathered, it drew attention to the fact that this type of linguistic interference occurs mainly in religious texts.

New discoveries now invite us to reopen the dossier. In Bayt Ras in Northern Jordan, a Roman tomb unearthed in 2016 was richly decorated to commemorate the founding of Capitolias, the city of the Decapolis, at the beginning of Trajan’s reign. More than sixty Aramaic legends transcribed in Greek characters accompany the paintings of this spectacular hypogeum. Their study is entrusted to the Lyon team of the Inscriptions de la Jordanie (Greek and Latin Inscriptions in Jordan), in close collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in partnership with the members of an international consortium of Jordanian and foreign experts formed to carry out the study, conservation and publication of the monument. Since 2017, the work is part of the Bayt Ras Tomb Project, which benefits from a development aid programme, SCHEP (Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project), funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and hosted in Amman by the American Center of Oriental Research (ACOR).

The international round table, organised at the University of Lyon by the Hisoma Research unit and the Institut français du Proche-Orient (Ifpo), follows two Lyon symposia on the epigraphy of the Near East (2015) and Jordan (2017), the proceedings of which appeared in the journals Syria and Topoi. It will bring Hellenists into dialogue with specialists in Semitic languages in order to draw up an assessment of the linguistic interference between Aramaic and Greek in the Near East during the Roman Empire. Together with a workshop devoted to the inscriptions of the Bayt Ras tomb, this scientific event will provide a unique opportunity to put into perspective the ongoing study of this exceptional monument. The contributions of the participants will be collected in a dossier of Topoi, a journal published at the Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée.

Programme

9 h – 12 h

  • Julien Aliquot, Pierre-Louis Gatier, Jean-Baptiste Yon (CNRS Hisoma) Introduction
  • Michał Gawlikowski (Centre polonais d’archéologie méditerranéenne, Université de Varsovie) Sur quelques transcriptions grecques de l’araméen de Palmyre 
  • Michael Zellmann-Rohrer (ERC Zodiac, Freie Universität Berlin) A Graeco-Aramaic text and a puzzle in the Negev: the Zoraitha graffiti and their context
  • Alain Desreumaux (CNRS Orient et Méditerranée) Le grec, l’araméen et les langues du Proche-Orient romano-byzantin : autour de Samrāʾ (Jordanie) et du christo-palestinien
  • Marco Moriggi (Università di Catania) Araméen et grec au-delà de l’Euphrate : contacts linguistiques dans l’Occident parthe

14 h – 17 h

  • Les inscriptions du Tombeau du Fondateur à Bayt Ras (Jordanie) : atelier thématique, avec la participation de Julien Aliquot, Georges Bohas, Françoise Briquel Chatonnet, Alain Desreumaux, Pierre-Louis Gatier, Michał Gawlikowski, Dominique Gonnet, Marco Moriggi, Jean-Baptiste Yon et Michael Zellmann-Rohrer
  • Françoise Briquel Chatonnet (CNRS Orient et Méditerranée) Conclusions

Scientific Committee

  • Julien Aliquot, CNRS Hisoma
  • Françoise Briquel Chatonnet, CNRS Orient et Méditerranée
  • Pierre-Louis Gatier, CNRS Hisoma
  • Dominique Pieri, MEAE Ifpo
  • Jean-Baptiste Yon, CNRS Hisoma

Places

  • Salle Caillemer - Université de Lyon, 15 quai Claude Bernard
    Lyon, France (69007)

Event format

Full on-site event


Date(s)

  • Friday, November 12, 2021

Keywords

  • grec, araméen, interférence linguistique, Proche-Orient, Syrie, Jordanie

Contact(s)

  • Julien Aliquot
    courriel : julien [dot] aliquot [at] mom [dot] fr

Information source

  • Julien Aliquot
    courriel : julien [dot] aliquot [at] mom [dot] fr

To cite this announcement

« Aramaic in Greek script: epigraphy and code-switching in the Roman Near East », Study days, Calenda, Published on Friday, October 22, 2021, https://calenda.org/924564

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