Dead End Roads – AKA Research

As I’ve worked to develop my thoughts on SAL.É/KID.KAR in RS 8.208, I’ve gone down a several dead end roads. One of those roads was a search for a context where Ugaritic plṭ might meaningfully be taken to be a title of a skilled professional rather than a personal name. Remember the great polyglot vocabulary text from Ugarit associates KAR with Ugaritic pu-la-ṭu. My first, out of context, look at line 7 of KTU 4.374 seemed to be encouraging. It reads śģr . plṭ. Out of context this could be “the assistant of Paliṭu” or “the assistant of a/the pullatu” You may quibble with my vocalizations if you want. I wasn’t thinking of the etymology of the name or title. That’s a different and interesting road to go down. Just not the one I was traveling at the time.
In context only “the assistant of Paliṭu” holds. Here’s the text:
KTU 4.374
    rcym . dt . bd . iytlm
    ḫyrn . w . śģrh
    śģr . bn . prsn
    agpṯ . w . śģrh
5. ṯcln
    mztn . w . śģrh
    śģr . plṭ
    sdrn . w . ṯn . śģrh
    t[ ]n[ ] . w . śģrh
10. h/i[. . .]n . w . śģrh
    śģr krwn
    śģr . ḫmyn
    śģr . bn dll
lower edge
    rt(?)xxx . w
15. r śģrh
I translate the first line, “Herdsmen managed by (who are in the hand of) Iytalamu.” This is followed by a list of personal identifiers. Each line of this list has one of three forms:

  • a simple proper name (l. 5);
  • a proper name and unnamed assistant (“PN and his assistant”; ll. 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 14-15(?));
  • a designation of someone’s assistant (“the assistant of PN” or in two cases “the assistant of PN1 son of PN2”; ll. 3, 7, 11, 12, 13)

I like these administrative texts; they often have their own little surprises. What is that large r doing at the beginning of line 15? But as you see, in context, plṭ in line 7 can only be a personal name.
So it is with 99% of research. Mere ideas vanish down dead end roads. Bad ideas vanish in the when there’s no road at all. Or so they should.

2 thoughts on “Dead End Roads – AKA Research”

  1. The term plṭ means simply “freedman” and cannot be interpreted as a personal name: śģr . plṭ sdrn . w . ṯn . śģrh “the assistant of the freedman (named) Sidarina and his second assistant” Consequently,your previous interpretation seems to be quite correct 😉

  2. Lukasz,
    Interesting. I’m not sure you are correct, but your idea is interesting. If you are correct, this is the only place in this text where the word that follows śģr isn’t a likely PN. For what it is worth, Del Olmo Lete and Sanmartín see plṭ here as a PN as do a couple of older dictionaries. I haven’t completed my literature search but so far, other than you, I haven’t found anyone who thinks otherwise. In addition, plṭ (and derivatives) is a PN in other West Semitic contexts. Note, for example, plṭy in Nu 13:9. Yes, for a couple of reasons, this is a little troubling. From references in Groendahl, there are others examples that are even closer but I right now I’m not able to look at the texts themselves. I will be looking at them.

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