In the first centuries AD, although much of the Near East was ruled by Rome, the main local language was Aramaic, and the people who lived inside or on the fringes of the area controlled by the Romans frequently wrote their inscriptions and legal documents in their own local dialects of this language. This book introduces these fascinating early texts to a wider audience, by presenting a representative sample, comprising eighty inscriptions and documents in the following dialects: Nabataean, Jewish, Palmyrene, Syriac, and Hatran. Detailed commentaries on the texts are preceded by chapters on history and culture and on epigraphy and language. The linguistic commentaries will help readers who have a knowledge of Hebrew or Arabic or one of the Aramaic dialects to understand the difficulties involved in interpreting such materials. The translations and more general comments will be of great interest to classicists and ancient historians.
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