Header: detail from an item of north African red-slip ware, dated 5thC AD.
- Skies above Pt 6a: Adding and removing layers (October 4, 2019)
- Stars above 5c: Proportion and desire in folio 70v (September 27, 2019)
This series so far…
Taking the ‘March’ diagram on folio 70v-i as paradigm, we have seen that the ladies’ ‘boneless’ arms and shoulders are the result of transmission through a community with attitudes different from the original maker’s. The time-range in which shapely female figures are found whole and unclothed within the Mediterranean world is limited to a period between c.3rdC BC to c. 5thC AD – after which they do not re-emerge within the art of western Europe until a couple of generations or more after the period (1404-1438) when the Voynich manuscript was made. It follows that the figures’ first enunciation had occurred during the earlier period and within the stated limits, if we accept as working hypothesis their first enunciation occurred in lands adjacent to the greater Mediterranean (that is, including the Aegean and Black Sea).
I move on to those parts of the research investigating the reason for, and meaning expressed by, setting these ‘shapely ladies’ with their flower-stars, or star-flowers, within what appear to be highly ornamented baskets placed – not altogether equally- around the circuit(s) of the month-diagrams.
I’m aware that a majority of Voynicheros are best acquainted with Christian Europe’s medieval art and history, so have deferred discussion of ‘Artemis women’ for the time being to begin instead with the late 4th-early 5thC AD, Augustine, and north Africa. In this post, too, I’ve included a deal of historical-comparative material for readers who have had little exposure to comparative historical studies, or cross-cultural histories of iconology.
Adding even a little of that comparative material made the post very long indeed – as long as a 20-page report – so I hope readers will forgive me if I don’t do the same in later posts – and if I allow some weeks to pass before posting again.
§1. North Africa 4th-5thC;
links to the eastern Mediterranean; Mutual beliefs and images.
The header for this post shows a detail from a piece of North African red slip ware* dated to about the fifth century, and possibly made during Augustine’s lifetime.** It was discovered in Metz, in northeastern France.
*called ‘terra sigillata’ or ‘-sigilata’ in the older way. ** Augustine was born in 354 AD, and died in 430 AD, before the Vandals invaded.
- Augustine’s environment – see this site, for an overview but allow for that author’s pro-Christian bias e.g. “In some of the same [dark] corners, old local pagan cults could still be found”. In fact, Augustine’s father maintained the older Phoenician religion and did so without any fuss made by his wife or by his son, though the wife plainly preferred her own, Christian, religion. It is evident that Christianity was not yet “the dominant religion” of the area. On the political situation and cultural mix, though, the essay is good.
The population about Carthage was a mix of Berber and Roman military, remnants of the original Punic population and a large Jewish population. Manichean and other forms of Christian belief had reached so far from centres in the eastern Mediterranean and informed the views of large, but not yet predominant number in the population. An influx of Roman refugees from the Goths, and food shortages after a disastrous tsumani in 365 AD had changed the earlier social, religious and economic environment while Augustine was in his teens.
Though the detail in our header is clearly no expression of Christian beliefs, it might well be captioned by quoting from a text which Augustine also quotes in his City of God:
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and many of the just as the stars forever.
That passage was actually first composed in Aramaic, and in the eastern side of the Mediterranean, during the 2ndC BC – the time when Sergius Orata built his fishponds. The Book of Daniel is a work of Jewish religious literature, but Christianity adopted it with many other Jewish works and so it was translated into Latin, and used thereafter throughout the Christian possessions – and so known to Augustine.
We needn’t suppose the book of Daniel known to the potter.
Like the author of Daniel, and like Augustine, the potter refers to ideas widely prevalent and of great antiquity, but which Augustine will express through a lens of Christian interpretation.
No element in the pot’s ornament was an invention of the potter’s. Not the ‘fish’-like shape of the baskets, nor their being suspended on a rippled line, nor the evident maturity of the angelos’ figure, nor her costume. It is what they (still) signified for persons of that time; and more, the antiquity of those ideas which – as well what they look like – elucidates what we see on folio 70v-i.
§2. Lights along the Margin
§2.1 the rippling line.
Neither is the potter’s setting those lights on such lines, nor with such spacings, an act of artistic license. Intelligent order was the very definition of the Greek term kosmos.. And that was his subject. The boundaries ordained by the divine were the definition of cosmic order – and the rippling line here signifies a boundary of that sort.
the terms ‘wolkenband’ and ‘nebuly line’ in Voynich-related writings:
Nineteenth-century historians of art, even when writing in English, littered their essays with terms adopted from other European languages, in a way that seems pretentious today if a viable alternative exists. For ‘cloudband’ English writers often used the German, ‘wolkenband’. The habit faded after the first few decades of last century and is not employed today unless you’re writing in German or describing certain types of traditional eastern rugs – in which latter case it remains the technical term. Oddly enough, though, its use came to be a habit in Voynich studies and by 2010 a number of Voynicheros had developed the idea that employing the German term ‘wolkenband’ supported a theory of the Voynich manuscript as in some sense a unique expression of a Germanic culture.
That proved an idea difficult to shift, and as late as 2017 when I closed Voynichimagery, few seemed to have accepted information, historical notes or illustrations I’d provided to explain this was not so. I daresay some still use the motif to support a theory of that sort. It has always puzzled me that so few who speculate and theorise about history or image-making appear to doubt their impressions even to the point of checking them against a text-book on these subjects. One sometimes has the odd sense that many imagine this manuscript to be a virtual, or theoretical object existing on a plane of existence otherwise unoccupied, and which might, therefore, be known only theoretically, much as theologians understand the afterlife. Some few reacted to the argument over terms and implications by inventing another word entirely, though a neologism vaguely related to medieval heraldry, as ‘nebuly line’. This new – indeed, unique – usage proved remarkably popular among some of the online ‘Voynich community’, and certainly did away with any need to check or quote histories of art, in which no such term will be found.
§2.2. Survival and transmission.
§3. Margins, proportion and Cosmic Order
Other works, first enunciated in the eastern Mediterranean, alluded to beliefs comparable to those expressed by the image on the fifth-century pot, whose rippling line is hung with ‘basket-lights’ of equal weight and regular (if not entirely equal) spacing. As alternative expressions for the underlying beliefs, we may continue to take passages from Jewish works known to Latin Europe, e.g.
“Thou hath disposed everything according to measure, number, and weight. (Wisdom 11:21).
“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a boundary to the face of the depths: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth.” (Proverbs 8:27-29)
in relation to this idea of cosmic order see e.g.,
- Evgeny A. Zaitsev. ‘The Meaning of Early Medieval Geometry: From Euclid and Surveyors’ Manuals to Christian Philosophy’, Isis, Vol. 90, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 522-553
3.1 … Angelos, limnatis and phosphoros.
Artemis Limnatis: ‘Lady of the Boundary/Marshes/Harbour’ –
Another of Artemis’ titles and which saw her as protector of those who travelled the ways of earth and of waters. She was especially beloved in Crete.
Note: Shimmering lights upon the margin.
‘Phosphoros’ (Gk. Φωσφόρος). This term is often taken, correctly, as referring to the planet Venus as ‘morning- and evening star’, and though the 5thC potter’s theme is surely ‘Phosphoros’ I do not think he understood in the older way the difference between the dawn star by that name, and Artemis’ when given that epithet.
To her, I think , it is better understood as closer to its use in describing Hephaestos, or Hecate – with the second of whom Artemis was regularly associated.
3.2 Fire in the darkness: the fire- ‘basket’.
The common theme in uses for phosphoros is of ‘light in the darkness’; the difference being that with the Dawn star the darkness is dispelled utterly, where the epithet’s use to describe Hephaestos and Hecate, and (I believe) Artemis as phosphoros suggests rather the idea of light gleaming within the enveloping darkness. A fire contained – a glittering or shimmering light which alleviates something of that darkness and draws one to it.
Iron itself was known earliest in the form of meteoric iron and many ancient peoples regarded it as the material of the stars and of the heavens from which they saw it fall . Despite the fact that iron rusts, it was still identified with the immortal and eternal in ancient and classical art. The standing type of iron fire-basket we call a brazier, but there was another type, which was suspended.
As so often, here, the sources which elucidate imagery are not written works or theological treatises, but the materials, activities and objects of everyday life. It is these which record things the literate might consider trivial, and where we see how a given community saw the interaction and intersection of mundane activities and divine action.
3.3. The suspended ‘fire-basket’ / ‘fish-basket’.
There was another sort of ‘basket-light’, one employed in night-fishing and – like Artemis – its virtue lay in drawing prey out from below cover – in this case the cover of water and of night.
Below is shown, first, the artefact as illustrated in a Byzantine copy of Oppian’s Haleutica and then by a physical example recently recovered from a wreck off Dor. This is how the ‘sun of night’ – the light of the afterworld is seen on many ancient artefacts As a ‘sun’ criss-crossed with lines as of basketry. And just so Artemis, as –phosphoros “draws forth to sight from its cover”. Note how the illustrator of the Greek manuscript equates the net, too, with the shape of a basket.
NOW – to see how this activity is mirrored in the ideas informing the fifth-century artefact illustrated in our header, and how the mundane and supra-mundane mirrored one another, imagine the scene from that manuscript (detail above, top register) as it would have appeared in life, and from the shore. The darkness has descended; the string of small fishing boats now invisible save for their basket-lights, moving gently in the swell as their suspended lights sway in the breeze. The boats are strung along an uneven line off the coast, each allowing a reasonable distance to the next, and all with those glittering, iron, ‘fish-baskets’ shimmering in the dark.
How natural to see their reflection in the dark waters below as parallel to the shining lights which shimmered in the night sky above. And just so the string of ‘asteriskos’ – sea-asters – gleamed along the margin between earth and sea to guide the seamen safely to shore.
These rippling lines of lights are metaphors of the margins – of which Artemis was again patron – as Artemis Limnatis. And it was the virginal Astraea who was credited with creating the asteriskos.
§4. The Cosmic order – the Artemis of Ephesus and north Africa.
The Christian Gospel of St.John is thought to have been composed in Ephesus, , and Christ’s mother to have died there, these things occurring almost contemporary with the presentation, by Rome, of a statue to the Temple of Ephesian Artemis. It is believed a close copy of the old temple’s ancient cult-statue of which the original had probably made of cedar wood. Pausanias (4.31.8) counted Artemis’ temple one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Hadrian would later build another temple to Artemis-Diana in Ephesus, and place a second version of the statue in it. The differences between them are significant, as we’ll see and indicate that first enunciation of the Voynich month-diagrams is unlikely to have occurred after the 3rdC AD.
The gift was made shortly after the eruption of Vesuvius and should be considered less an act of magnanimity than of appeasement, Rome’s “total eradication” of Carthage being something of which even the Romans were later reluctant to speak.
It is the earlier statue – or some details of it – which explain those ideas which, ultimately, inform the ‘ladies and stars in baskets’ in the Voynich month-diagrams, by way imagery extant from 5thC north Africa.
Between Ephesos and the Libyo-Phoenician (Punic) people of north Africa were ties so ancient that even the Greeks believed that they predated their own arrival in the Mediterranean. To that time, too, archaeologists believe the original temple of Ephesos belongs. When it was built, it overlooked a harbour, already reduced to a marsh by the 2ndC BC.
This first of these Roman gifts was made soon after the underworld’s eruption through Vesuvius had claimed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum and the lives of thousands. One phenomena observed was that the sea withdrew from the land, but did not then return – no tsumani. The message seemed to be that Poseidon could not advance, but Demeter might take from his domain what the Romans had taken from hers. Though the Romans saw Ephesian Artemis as a ‘Diana’ she was understood to equate with their Juno Caelestus (‘queen of heaven) in Ephesos. In fact, she appears to have been the deity governing order in the kosmos, including the underworld, and had much in common (as we’ll see) with Tanit, the chief deity of Carthage.
I’ll illustrate this point, and also the endurance and survival of certain ancient ideas, by considering a couple of details from that statue.
§4.1 The ‘crown’ – heavenly City.
§4.2 the ornament: Suspended lights
As you see (below) Artemis’ adornments include what may have been a silver crescent; then a net of pearls, drawn up at each side from which are suspended a series of pendants, eight being visible. Their form is (I think intentionally) multivalent. They are easily likened to the fish-shaped basket-lights we see in the African red slip ware (see header). Equally, they can be read as a line of figures, dancing with hands held high; or as figures winged, and again as deep vases of fire. All these motifs are compatible with what is known of Artemis’ cult/s and character/s and there is no need to choose one and suppose it ‘the‘ reading. Religious perception (as distinct from theology) is inherently poetic.
Now, when we turn to Carthage before the rise of Rome, and to those regions under its influence, we find that Tanit is the only figure who wears such pendants on a necklace, and that they are first shown in the coins (below, first register) in a form is very close indeed to those of the ‘basket-lights’ depicted almost a thousand years later in that piece of red north African slipware made in the days of Augustine. As previously noted, polytheism was still very much alive then, and Augustine’s father himself continued to observed the older, pre-Roman religion of the region.
Coins made for Carthage a century later resemble more the form of that necklace on the first Roman gift to Artemis of Ephesus. (below, lower register).
They mark not simply a line between a woman’s shoulders and head; they mark the boundary between the carnal and the intellectual; between the physical earthly world and the realm of the divine as the higher heavens. So too if formed as ‘hanging basket-lights’, or as winged figures. It is the boundary between realms which no human may pass in body – unless the body is made immortal.
§4.3 Artemis and the circling stars: a Roman zodiac
The Roman rulers’ now (1stC AD) presenting marble replacements for various hallowed objects of great antiquity to eastern temples such as that at Epehsus shouldn’t be imagined apology or regret, but rather as a sort of bribe. Rome had now begun to fear divine retribution from the many tutelary deities of communities and peoples they had decimated, enslaved, and whose temples had suffered rapine and destruction at Roman hands.
Even more would be spent on replacing a major cult centre of the Phoenicians in Syria, doubtless to persuade those deities, too, to overlook Rome’s ‘total war’ against the Libyo-Phoenicians and others such as the inhabitants of Thrace.
The first of those statues was illustrated further above.
One has to appreciate the very close connection perceived to exist between the underworld, death, and that life represented above all by grain – which sprang from the same earth into which the dead were received by those deities below earth – and not so far below the surface of the earth as we might imagine today. This interrelated set of ideas – of grain and life in return for the dead; of descent of the body and possible ascent of the soul or spirit – was intrinsic to older perceptions of the world and are – or rather is – conveyed by these statues of Artemis and again implied (in my opinion) by the ‘ladies’ in the month-roundels.
Being Romans still, the officials of Rome who presented these statues saw no reason they should not also use them to advertise Roman ideas and dictates. The second statue is a case in point. The Romans never quite grasped the idea of hubris and had now taken it on themselves to rearrange the cosmic order when they invented a new constellation – Aequitas/Libra.
Apparently unaware, too, that the stars used to mark the lunar path were not identical with those of the sun’s road, they reduced it all to one. Evidently believing (rightly or not) that the pendants had represented the solar path, they replaced them with their then-novel form for the zodiac, placing their ‘Scales’ prominently if not dead-centre. (below, left). The advantage for us is that it confirms the equation between those ‘fish-shaped’ basket ornaments and stars of the ecliptic.
A copy of this statue too was found in North Africa, near Cyrene, but shows how diplomacy and tradition might both be accommodated. The moon’s path has been restored – as a winding ribbon around the necklace, making it now appear less like a net than a wreath. A small adjustment also allowed devotees to avoid looking at the new-fangled Roman constellation.
Note also the form given the constellation of the ‘Fishes’ – this has them lying parallel and head to head – the same form employed for the ‘two fishes’ coins made for Byzantion, and for Gades, and which – as we saw earlier – appears in the 12thC Complutense manuscript of the Libros.. Apologies for the blurred centre image ( above, left).
There’s so much scholarly literature now on the subject of ancient and later perception of the heavens, that good work is easy enough to find. I’ll add just one recent publication:
- David Weston Marshall, Ancient Skies: Constellation Mythology of the Greeks (2018).
Augustine well understood the older ideas and their vision, while interpreting them through the lens of Christian belief. Thus, while excoriating contemporary astrologers and Manichaeans, he can still laud the stars themselves as
… clarissimo senatu ac splendidissima curia…
Augustine, City of God V.1.
Since neither Latin nor Greek has a ‘y’ it was difficult to distinguish between a transliterated [Greek] ‘kyria’ (Lady) and the Latin ‘curia’ (council), and all the more so given Artemis’ earlier role as mistress of the Council’s executive in Athens. Still, Augustine’s understanding is clear enough: the stars are perceived as a splendid house of brilliant counsellors.
So – in their bringing illumination and wisdom to the darkness, the stars suggested comparison with the suspended lights of daily life, and with that idea of overseeing counsellors, an idea which, incidentally, we have recorded from the time of the Egyptian pyramids.
Association with the Greek Artemis ‘of the Council’ was – as ever – not merely metaphorical or conceptual but practical and physical. As Artemis Bouleia and -phosphoros, she was revered in classical Athens where she presided over the various activities of the Council’s executives: the Prytani. And, to show how well these ideas meld, let me again quote that passage from the Book of Daniel:
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and many of the just as the stars forever.
which allows us to move on to the still more practical matters of death and taxes.
§5 “clarissimo senatu ac splendidissima curia… ” Artemis –bouleia & phosphoros:…
In a building called the ‘tholos’ – which otherwise describes a beehive-tomb – these executive members of the Council (Boule) were chosen by lot to serve in turn for 36 days – a tenth of the year – as the executive members. The work of the Prytaneis was formally ‘chaired’ by Artemis as Bouleia, though the ‘senate’ (Boule) and the executive (Prytaneis) were allotted separate buildings.
- Any reader interested to know more of Artemis at Athens, if they have Italian, is recommended this pdf.
The Tholos stood on the Acropolis, overlooking the potter’s field and market.
Incoming members were required to pay certain. dues to Artemis and what you see in the centre of the room in the drawing (above, lower register) is the type of container into which such dues or taxes were paid, in coin in this case, but also in goods when the taxes were of that sort.
Similar containers were also used in the following, Roman, period. When treating Roman tax-collection, modern scholars may speak of the ‘tax bucket’ or describe them in the older way as ‘cista’ or ‘cistella’ – which last term, as we’ve seen, saw remained in regular use in old English to describe a type of basket.
5.1 Container – ‘Cista’/’cistella’. Due portions
As neatly defined by the and various dictionaries, ‘cista’ is “is a box or basket used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans and Romans for various practical and mystical purposes.” – which just about includes everything save small shapely ladies, even allegorical ones.
The Roman tax-buckets were often, if not invariably, made of metal. Used as funerary urns they were set on feet and were usually provided with finial ornament.
I first brought this term, and object, to the attention of Voynicheros in 2010 at Findings– citing the examples I’ll use again here (below). I repeated the historical and other notes from my own investigation in a number of posts to Voynichimagery, my point being that this Roman, type remained in use to as late as the 3rdC AD but I that I could find none depicted later. It thus suggests a a possible terminus ad.quem for the simple cylindrical containers in the ‘leaf and root’ section if (and I’d emphasise if) the Voynich month-diagrams (excluding the cenrtal emblems) and that leaf-and-root section were both supposed of Mediterranean origin and near-contemporary in their first enunciation.
Further, I pointed out that if, again, one supposed their red colour true to an original, then a period of not later than the 1st-2ndC AD was indicated – and for technical reasons I won’t repeat here, though I provided it in brief in those earlier blogposts.
Since then – as so often – one has seen the same images reused by various Voynicheros, though rarely with any reference made to the present writer’s introducing them to the study, nor to the research and the historical context which gave them point.
The subject of the cista – with other terms and uses for such objects – was introduced, and then expanded to ‘Updated: Red containers and esparto’ (Findings, Wednesday May 12th., 2010). That post included details shown below (centre). The third-century coin (below, left) was introduced at Findings in a post of Wednesday, November 9, 2011, and again reprised for the new, wordpress, blog Voynich imagery.
What is seen on the coin of Ephesus (above, centre) is always described as ‘cista’ (kista) or ‘cista mystica’. The two details on the right (in case you missed the earlier posts) are from the Voynich manuscript’s “leaf and root” section, which is commonly – though I think mistakenly- theorised as related to pharmaceuticals.
Once again, but in Athens, we find Artemis’ as ‘Bouleia’, and in that role specifically linked to her epithet ‘Phosphoros’, both directly linked to Ephesos and to the enigmatic phosphorai. ( I hope some readers are beginning to see why I believe the Voynich manuscript not merely interesting, or intriguing, but important.)
A sizeable fragment of a large stele bearing an inscription in honor of Ephesos and ambassadors from Ephesos of the period 224-196 B.C. was found in 1934 just above the fork in the Great Drain, i. e., ca. 18 m. due east of the front of the Tholos Porch. The inscription was to be set upThe marble had apparently been re-used in a late repair of the Great Drain, but, as pointed out by its editor, it had probably been moved little from its original place.
Artemis Boulaia appears commonly in the inscriptions honoring the prytaneis of the third and second centuries before Christ among the divinities to whom the prytaneis sacrificed before meetings of the Assembly.’ Hence it is reasonable to suppose that her altar stood in the immediate vicinity of the Bouleuterion or Tholos. From the ancient authors it is quite clear that the prytaneis made sacrifices by the Tholos and so we may safely infer that the altar of Artemis Boulaia stood within the Tholos precinct. In the prytany decrees of the second century before Christ Artemis Boulaia bears also the epithet Phosphoros, an epithet which, though occasionally attached to other divinities, is most commonly applied to Artemis. This being so, and the area being now so closely limited, we need scarcely hesitate to associate Artemis Boulaia-Phosphoros, the Phosphoroi, the altar, and the statue, assigning them to one and the same sanctuary within the Tholos precinct.
We are still in the dark as to the precise status of the Phosphoroi, but we may regard them with assurance as female divinities closely related to Artemis…we have gotten abundant new evidence for one of the minor functions of the Tholos, viz., the safeguarding of a set of official weights and measures.
In one sense, then, Maitre Francois was not entirely mistaken in envisaging a sort of fish-basket (‘cistella’?) suspended above, nor in giving Sergius Orata ‘oriental’ clothing, nor in having ‘naked souls’ occupy those baskets. Where he erred was in conflating Orata’s practical, earthly activities with a specifically religious vision of the stars. The waters in which the stars bathe, or sail, are those of the cool northern skies or those southern heavens imagined to look upon boiling seas and earth so hot that it could not support life. (And still says the author of the Muqaddimah as late as 1377, the year in which the Papacy returned from Avignon and just two years
before after the King of France would receive the marvellous work of a Jewish cartographer of Majorca, Abraham Creques.
To end this series of posts, we need only treat the baskets’ forms and ornament, the matter of Artemis and her ‘ladies’ and the most intriguing questions of all, namely which of the many three-tier systems for representing the heavens (and associated ideas) is being employed here, and what were the first enunciator’s likely languages and those of the persons who preserved and transmitted the material, making the shoulders and limbs ‘boneless’ at some stage.
Of course, we have no proof that the present text hasn’t also been affected by its last phase of transmission(s). In a worst-case scenario the written text could be no older than the present manuscript and might also – as many have long been believed – been enciphered too.
I had hoped to include some of that in the present post, but it is long enough.
By this stage, then, I had found a lucid explanation for the manuscript’s association of stars with baskets and for the ladies’ ‘shapely’ appearance, something which had puzzled Panofsky who like everyone of his time supposed the Voynich manuscript an autograph .
I had, also, one tentative explanation the figures as a conclave or assembly composed (chiefly, if not only) of ‘ladies’ and if I continued to take as default that first enunciation occurred within the greater Mediterranean, this might be understood as a misinterpretation – at some stage – of a Greek description of the “Lady’s assembly” (mod. Gk: τη συνέλευση της κυρίας) for “assembly [curia] of ladies”.
It was just a possible explanation of error – but the imagery wasn’t necessarily erroneous. What it did indicate – were it an error and that its reason – a greater familiarity with Latin than with Greek. Other details in the manuscript had by now limited the initial range for first enunciation from 3rdC BC-5thC AD to, 3rdC BC- c.1st-2ndC AD, but still with the caveat that the ‘ladies’ sections may not have been first enunciated in the greater Mediterranean.
- Marie-Louise Bech Nosh. ‘Approaches to Artemis in Bronze Age Greece. From Artemis to Diana. The Goddess of Man and Beast’, Danish Studies in Classical Archaeology, 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark. pp.21-36. ffhprints-01056261f
The Book of Daniel has long been a source of controversy, exacerbated by modern – chiefly American – Christian fundamentalism which has flourished notably since the 1950s. Readers are urged not to rely on publications found online except if they carry the name of a reputable scholarly publisher. However, for an idea of the arguments, their duration and complexity see e.g.
- (1898), George A. Barton, ‘The Composition of the Book of Daniel’, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 17, No. 1 (1898), pp. 62-86 (25 pages) and bibliography.
- (1911) ‘Book of Daniel’ Catholic Encyclopaedia (reprinted at New Advent, online).
- ‘Aramaic’ Encylopaedia Brittanica, (online). A good brief outline of the spread and variety of Aramaic dialects – though not of scripts. The text suggests too sharp a division between use of one tongue and another – e.g. neglects continuing use of Aramaic among eastern and western Talmudic (Rabbanite) Jews and the continuing use of Greek as the Mediterranean’s lingua franca well into the earlier medieval period, including by Jews, among whom the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language apparently dated to c.10thC AD.