Skip to: Site Menu | Main content

“First, …recognize that it's a penny”: Report on the "Newark" Ritual Artifacts

Limits are the framework of a writing system and enclose the writing zone Our modern writing limits are Quattro linear, that is, four lines, with the outer limits marking the upper limit for ascenders (e.g., “h”) and lower limit for descenders (e.g., “y”). Graphs are written between the limits. Quattro linear limit systems are tri linear limit systems moved down one limit-line to accommodate ascenders. Writing systems on the eastern side of the Ancient Near East used tri linear limit systems. Tri linear limits are dynamic; graphs are written within the limits and permit the graphs to move up and down and from side to side in imitation of words as-spoken. Bilinear scripts and fonts fill the entire space between the upper and lower limits. Because the graphs fill the writing zone, bilinear limit systems are static. The main purpose of bilinear limit systems is to "freeze" the written words into an unchanging form to preserve the "magic" power of speech. Bilinear limit systems are favored by religio-mystico societies.

    Any document written using bilinear limits indicates that the text is meant to be "frozen" and said exactly as written.


    A script design is a closed system that functions as an independent and coherent whole within the complete writing system. Consolidated fonts are the exact opposite of conglomerate fonts. While both scripts use graphs from other script designs, they share no other features. Conglomerate fonts make no attempt to merge two or more different designs into a coherent whole. Instead, a conglomerate font displays a haphazard assortment of graphs from different designs within one word or phrase.40

    As xenographic exchange41 depends upon the strict adherence to a coherent font within the body of a text, conglomerate fonts are a meaningless mixture of graphs and are a definitive sign of a forgery.

    Consolidated fonts are designed to merge graphs from different designs to create a coherent whole. These fonts are difficult to design because the final sub-system must frequently incorporate graphs from far different script systems. All consolidated designs start from a base script, that is, an existing script design is used as the base and the graphs from the other script systems are modified to match and merge with the existing base.

    While not as common as single script designs, consolidated fonts are not rare and already appear under Sargon I of Sumer and Akkad. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, 11QPs, the large Psalm scroll from Cave 11 in the general vicinity of Khirbet Qumran, is written in a consolidated Paleo-Square Script design. Paleo-Hebraic does not have serifs. This font incorporates features of Monumental Paleo-Hebraic and formal Square Script designs to make a formal sans-serif font. The base script is the Monumental Paleo-Hebraic. The font is carefully designed to use Monumental Paleo-Hebraic in xenographic exchange.

    The graphs from the square script have been modified to match the base-script. The left leg of the “shin/sin,” for example, imitates the exact angle of the uprights of monumental Paleo, as do the uprights on the “ayin.” The right-hand angles imitate exactly the down-strokes, as on the Paleo-Hebraic “heh” (Figure 5).42

    Fig. 5: The consolidated font of 11QPs

    Constantine's Uncial script is a consolidated font intended to unite the Greco-Roman Empire by creating a new official script design that incorporates graphs from both Latin and Greek script systems into one matching whole.

    Consolidated fonts are used as "standard" fonts; thus, the fact that a document is written in a consolidated font does not tell us anything about the status of the document as genuine or fake. On the other hand, close examination of the elements used in a consolidated font frequently yields otherwise inaccessible data.


    A “grid” font is geometrically based. A grid of squares, all of the same size, is laid out, then the graphs, always starting with the “A” (or “aleph”) of the base-script, are squared off to outline a given "box" on the grid.

    Each graph is then modified to approximate the desired appropriate symbol but filling the limits of a square. Grid fonts frequently result in the distortion of standard graphs to meet the coherence required in a font design. Nevertheless, grid fonts are useful when the consolidated font must combine graphs from many areas or ages and must be written without descenders or ascenders.

    Grid fonts frequently are used with the incantation format.


    The shape of the Mosaic, or arch-topped, tablet derives directly, and practically unchanged down the millennia, from the shape associated with the architecture of Mesopotamian "House of God" buildings.43 While the interpretation of the arch is dependent upon a culture (high and rounded, flattened and broad, "cloud," or pointed), the arch always is a symbol that whatever is presented under the arch is backed by the word of a god. Today the shape is frequently referred to as the shape of a "tombstone." This is backwards: the tombstone is shaped to imitate the narrow high arch associated with the Mosaic code; the shape symbolizes that the deceased has been entrusted to God. This use dates back to the earliest Christian grave markers and is used with the same symbolism on Moslem graves.44

    Any article in the shape of a Mosaic tablet should contain a law or imply the law code handed down "at Sinai" by God.


    While most people are aware that the color (or lack of color really) white indicates purity, not many are aware that, in antiquity, the color of the law was black. In fact, the color of the law is black to this day.

    Because the contents of the phylacteries represent laws on wearing signs on hand and head, phylacteries are required by religious law to be black.


    A symposium on the artifacts was held on Nov. 6, 1999. At the request of Patti Malenke, curator of the museum, Kenneth Bork and David Hawkins of Denison University examined the stone on which the "decalogue" is inscribed (and from the lithograph and description also the lost companion piece) and found it to be a black limestone in which "a fossil crinoid stem is visible on the surface.45 "The "stems" (or "tests") of the marine creatures (both extinct and living) are "limy" and white.46 The flow detector, cup, and case for the "yad" piece are made of novaculite.

    An article made of stone is necessarily pure according to Rabbinic halachic rules.


    The figure on the bas-relief sculpture, enclosed within the shape of "The" Law, is the classic Semitic profile pose that, when a ruler or member of the elite is portrayed, is usually enclosed within an arch. The Semitic pose is quite distinct from the classic Egyptian pose, which combines a frontal body with a profile head.47 In the Semitic pose, the entire body is portrayed in profile. This pose dates back to the oldest surviving stele from Akkad (ca. 2371-ca. 2255 BCE); the profile pose enclosed in an arch reappears down the millennia. In the classic Semitic pose, the figure is in profile, one hand is raised or the arm is bent forward pointing at something or holding something.

    A sculpture in this classic pose indicates a Semitic model.

|Page 1|Page 2|Page 4|Page 5|Notes|