What has happened with the Ebla tablets is, unfortunately, exactly what happened with several other major textual discoveries of this century, such as the Ugaritic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Linear B tablets in Mycenaean Greek. In each case there was a period of wild enthusiasm with everyone wanting to get into the act. Claim and counterclaim followed one bizarre reconstruction after another. One classical scholar, convinced that the ancient Greeks could write nothing but great poetry, thought he had discovered the poetic metrical system for the poetry of the Linear B tablets—no mean achievement when one realizes that these tablets are administrative texts connected with the wool industry, the flax industry, coppersmithing and the manufacture of perfumes and unguents.
The point is that there seems to be a period of fantasy, almost a silly season, through which we must pass following every great textual or epigraphical discovery. Scholars share the vanities and insecurities common to all humanity. When asked for their opinion by a reporter from the New York Times, Time magazine or BAR, few can resist. The fact that they know nothing about the subject has never hindered most scholars from contributing to the general confusion.
Exclusive: Early Christian Lead Codices Now Called Fakes
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