Jerusalem (Feb. 18)
(By Our Jerusalem Correspondent)
The archaeological problem of finding a bi-lingual Hittite inscription (similar to the Rosetta Stones and the Egyptian inscriptions of Beisan) that would give a clue to the language of the Hittites, one of the seven people recorded in the Bible as the inhabitants of Palestine prior to the Israelite conquest, is occupying the attention of the archaeologists who are excavating on the site of the City of Mizpah. This was explained here in an interview by Dean William Bade, noted archaeologist and Professor of Semitic Literature at the Pacific School of Religion, which is associated with the University of California.
The lack of such a key to the Hittite language, Dean Bade said, hindered the deciphering of many inscriptions in existence. But that was not the principal object of his present expedition. He had hoped to pursue his investigations in Syria, where possibilities of such a find existed, but the present state of affairs in a part of the country he had hoped to explore, rendered any immediate work there unfeasible.
Dean Bade himself is organizing and outfitting his own initial enterprise. The work of excavations on the site of Mizpah is being conducted under the auspices of the Pacific School of Religion and the American School of Oriental Research, of which the Pacific School is a supporting institution. The ancient site of Mizpah is where Jacob and Laban, according to Genesis, made a compact. Later it was fortified.
“The mound of Mizpah, a very sightly hill, is situated some seven miles north of Jerusalem, at the left of the Nablus Road, and two and a half miles this side of Ramallah,” Dr. Bade declared. “It is quite close to the village of El-Bireh. We saw the upper part of the fortifications, probably Old Canaanitish, in the mound, sticking up out of the ground at a slant, or glacis.
“While of course I can make no positive statement, I am hopeful of finding at least a Canaanite, Phoenician or even Philistinian sanctuary. I think we can expect to find relies of these times.
“We have found a spring at the bottom of the Hill,” continued Dean Bade, “that seems to indicate that we shall come across a watershaft. In those times, it was the custom to fortify a spot close by a spring, so that in times of siege the water-supply could be rendered adequate. We find traces of this strategy at Mizpah.
“The builders then would run a tunnel from the interior to the spring outside the place. The tunnel would pass under the outer wall of the fortifications, and provide an easy means of underground egress to the spring. Of course, such tunnels would not be necessary at most Canaanite and Phoenician fortifications where the spring is at the hilltop; but we may count upon the discovery of a shaft in connection with Mizpah.”