Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An inscribed potsherd.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A piece of pottery or stone, usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Greek antiquity, a potsherd or tile; a square plaque of terra-cotta on which an inscription is written.

Etymologies

Greek ostrakon, shell; see ost- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ancient Greek ὄστρακον (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Esther Eshel of Hebrew University in Jerusalem says the ostracon is a legal document recording the surrender of a new member's personal property to the Qumran commune.

    Qumran Controversy

  • Every one taking an ostracon, that is, a sherd, a piece of earthenware, wrote upon it the citizen's he would have banished, and carried it to a certain part of the market-place surrounded with wooden rails.

    The Boys' and Girls' Plutarch; being parts of the "Lives" of Plutarch, edited for boys and girls

  • That's an easy conclusion to reach given the more certain readings of the ostracon.

    Linguistics and the Dating of Texts

  • I just saw on the Biblicalist list-serv that the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon chronicle has been updated with new information and pictures.

    Khirbet Qeiyafa Website Updated

  • While Christianity Today does a good job of reporting on the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon, Fox news offers viewers no understanding of the nature of the find, the uncertainty about how the fragmentary text should be translated, or anything else that might be called accurate, nuanced reporting:

    Reconstructing Tenth-Century Hebrew Morality

  • Doug Mangum gives an update on the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon inscription.

    Knowledge Resources Online

  • Second, the biblical reference to Azekah and Lachish as the last strongholds to withstand the Babylonian assault Jeremiah34:7, confirmed by an ostracon found at the site, provides clear evidence that Lachish was annihilated by the Babylonians in587/6 BCE.

    The Bible Unearthed

  • One ostracon, broken into two pieces, mentions several commodities and is believed to be a list of food and supplies.

    New Texts from Qumran

  • The next line reads, "In Jericho," most likely indicating where the ostracon was made.

    New Texts from Qumran

  • Every one taking an ostracon, a sherd, that is, or piece of earthenware, wrote upon it the citizen’s name he would have banished, and carried it to a certain part of the market-place surrounded with wooden rails.

    Aristides

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • An ostracon is a piece of pottery (or stone), usually broken off from a vase or other earthenware vessel. In Ancient Greece, the voting public would write or scratch the name of a person in the shard of pottery. When the decision at hand was to banish or exile a certain member of society, citizen peers would cast their vote by writing the name of the person on the piece of pottery; the vote was counted and if unfavorable the person was put out of the city, thus giving rise to the term ostracism. (Wikipedia)

    June 5, 2008