Will you be Lucky Enough to Find the next Pur?

A stone die, the first that was found in the sifting project.

The lockdown is over and we’re back to sifting! We’re of course practicing Covid-19 precautions, with groups of up to 20 (We’re currently looking into allocating separate hours during which we’ll be able to accommodate larger groups, in accordance with the Green Badge guidelines).

During Purim itself (Friday-Sunday) we’ll be closed, but you’re invited to book a spot tomorrow and from Monday onwards.

During the month of Addar, on our very first year of sifting, we discovered our first pur – a word derived from the Akkadian word pūru, meaning “an object with which lots were cast”. The actual objects used were sometimes stones, pieces of pottery, dice or astragalus bones, usually from sheep or goat ankles.

Since then, we have discovered dozens of gaming dice, probably from the Roman period, carved out of bone and ivory and incised with dots and circles, in a style that hasn’t changed much till present day. Other dice, including that first pur, crudely carved from stone and unmarked, are probably from earlier periods.

Even at our preliminary study of these astragali, one has been singled out as “definitely not food”, simply because it is cast from glass! A handful of parallels found throughout the country tell us it is from the Hellenistic period, a little after the time period of the Book of Ester.

You are invited to join the sifting on Ta’anit Ester and next week, and just maybe the dice will show in your favor and you’ll uncover an ancient pur yourself!

Happy Purim!

A stone dice. The first that was found in the sifting project.
A glass object created as an astragli bone replica.

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