Researchers: We found traces of the measure ‘Tap’

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Researchers from the Computational Archeology Laboratory at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University, the Weizmann Institute and the Digital Archaeological Documentation and Research Laboratory at the Israel Antiquities Authority recently published a study in the archaeological journal BASOR, noting that they identified Archaeological.

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The study was conducted in the Laboratory of Computational Archeology at the Institute of Archeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem by Dr. Avshalom Karsik, Head of the Documentation and Digital Research Laboratory in Archeology of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Ortal Harush, PhD student in Computational Archeology Laboratory, and Prof.

The study, which sheds light on a recurring question in archeological research and halakhic literature, examined three groups of storage and trading jars made in various places in Israel in the tenth to seventh centuries BCE, a period biblically identified with the period of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

One of the groups of jars investigated in the study from Khirbet Kiyafa. Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

Tap – 8.8 cm

The researchers scanned in 3D about 300 jars associated with three types of archeological jars and have an average volume of about 40 liters – ‘kifafa’ jars dating to the 10th century BC and identified with the Khirbet kayafa site; hippo jars dating to the 100th century 10-8 BC and their distribution mainly in northern Israel; And state-of-the-art commercial jars dating to the end of the 8th-6th centuries BCE and their main distribution in the Judean and Negev plains, and are identified, among other things, by the imprints of the “king” seal stamped on their handles. Central.

The study measured a number of shape and size characteristics of the jars, such as volume, height, maximum diameter, etc., and used them to make a detailed comparison between the groups of jars. The measurements indicated non-uniformity in the sizes measured in each of the groups, and between the mean values ​​in the different groups. An exception was one measure that was exactly common to all the jars: the diameter of the inner opening of the jar neck. The diameter measured ranges on average from 88-89 mm which is in the middle of the range of the accepted estimate of the ‘tap’ – Width of four fingers – an ancient measure mentioned in the Bible.

On the left: a pitcher of the ‘Kiafa’ type, a pitcher of the ‘Hippo’ type and a state pitcher with a seal imprint of the ‘King’ type. The diameter of the inner opening is marked with a red line.

The ideal width for the opening of a jar

The researchers offer an explanation for the uniformity of the jar openings, based on an attempt to analyze the process of manufacturing the jar and its use. In the process of manufacturing the jar lies a conflict – on the one hand, there is an advantage to a small opening that allows for efficient sealing that is important for storage and transportation, and on the other hand, a large opening that is more efficient for filling and pouring is preferable. Another constraint is related to the method of manufacturing the jars, which is usually done in parts, and in order to assemble them together, the potters must insert their hand into the opening of the jar so that an airtight and homogeneous connection is possible. In addition, reusing jars requires thorough cleaning, especially of the bottom of the jar, which is possible only if the opening is wide enough to insert the entire hand to the bottom. Another consideration that may have influenced the size of the opening came from traditions of impurity and purity, so that a small opening from a square of tap on tap prevents the entry of impurity into the contents of the vessels.

A jar for a king. Photo: Yael Yolovitch, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to the researchers, “The width of the season for all these requirements is the size of the tap – which can be easily applied by the various pots, regardless of their time and place.” It was natural for the ancient pots to adopt the size of the tap. “This is a unit of length that was widely used in ancient times, and it is mentioned both in Assyrian and Egyptian sources and in the Book of the Covenant,” the researchers explained in their article.

Tap a man and not a woman

The relationship between the patty and the neck diameters is strengthened by comparing the distribution of the dimensions of the jar openings to the palm width measurements of men and women from US military stockpiles (the comparison of human hands from such different periods is based on studies cited in the article).

The handles of jars that were investigated in the study from Khirbet Kiyafa. Photo: Clara Amit, Israel Antiquities Authority

“We assume that the physical width of the hand has not changed during the last 3,000 years,” the article stressed. Thus, the test results showed a surprising match between the distributions of the jar openings and the width of the palms of American men (but not of American women). These data reinforce the claim that in this case the use of the ancient cultivar that was preserved in the process of making the jars and had an average size of 88-89 mm can be clearly identified.

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