Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is The Comte d'Antraigues a Reliable Paleographic Witness?

“Of all the Sinaitic records, the most extraordinary are the one last mentioned and another close to it, both described by the Comte d’Antraigues, a French nobleman who travelled in the peninsula with his suite in the year 1779. His account of them “was published originally in 1811, in the Posthumous Letters of J. G. Von Müller, the historian of Switzerland, a name so eminent in literature, before, at the call of Napoleon, he exchanged the path of ‘quiet and delightful studies’ for the cares of state.” [Forster’s Voice of Israel from the Rocks of Sinai, p. 82.]

“The following is a translation of the Comte’s own words: — “At five o’clock in the morning, on the 14th May, 1779, I put my whole caravan in motion, and we repaired to the Dshebel el Moukatab. It consists of two very lofty rocks, cut perpendicular, separated one from the other by 50 paces. It appears that their base has been hollowed by the action of the waters. .... These rocks, covered with characters carved in relief, have none from their base up to the height of 14 feet 2 inches. The total length of the valley is 547 Paris toises. [1094 yards.] The rocks are covered with characters up to their summits: the lines are straight, but their extremities bend up to the junction of the line above, and form a writing in furrows. On the right hand rock, in coming from Tor, there are in all 67 lines; 41 on the rock to the left. The characters stand out one inch, and are one foot long. On the left side, on the highest part of the rock, are the characters which are called The Title. The reason of their having been called by this name is that the letters which compose it are 6 feet high, and stand out 3 inches. I caused them to be drawn with the greatest exactness. It would require six months of stubborn toil to draw the whole of these characters: it is a book unique, perhaps, under heaven, and the history of a people perhaps unknown.” [“Extract of a letter from M. le Comte d’Antraigues, ap. J. G. Müller, tom. vi. p. 330. — Von Müller saw no improbability in the assignment of an Israelitish origin to these monuments .... The writer whom Napoléon summoned to the offices, successively, of Secretary of State for Westphalia, and Minister of Public Instruction, will hardly, in our day, be taxed with credulity. At least, if he be, the charge will assuredly recoil upon the taxers.” — Forster’s Voice of Israel, p. 82]

Dated Inscription XI The Jebel Mukatteb inscription called “The Title” The inscription is reproduced from the Comte d’Antraigues in Forster, One Primeval Language, Plate V. Forster thought the Comte had inverted the inscription by mistake, and could only read it by his theoretical alphabet after turning it the other way. However, as the Comte published it, and as reproduced here, it makes perfect sense in Sinaitic.

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.