The Istaby Stone  



The Istaby stone is today located in Statens historiska museum in Stockholm. Its original place was however in Istaby - a village in the Lister peninsula, western Blekinge. The names "Ista-" and "Lister" have most probably ultimately been derived from the name Ishtar - the name of the Semitic goddess, who also gave her name to places close to and on the spot of the Björketorp monument. A very old tradition says that a queen lies buried on the original spot of the Istaby stone, and together with her, it is said, lie her golden harp and jewels. The queen of this old Istaby legend may very well be identical to Ishtar, because Ishtar was in Semitic tradition known as the queen of heaven.


The Runes in the Istaby Inscription

It has never been disputed that the runes in the Istaby inscription looks like the following, with two rows on the front of the stone and one row on the back of it:

It has however been claimed that the s-runes in the Istaby inscription do not mean "S"! It has been claimed that all of the s-runes in all runic inscriptions in the world, except the s-runes in the Istaby inscription, mean "S"! In the Istaby inscription the s-runes are said to mean "A" instead. This is of course nonsense. Further, it has been claimed that the first rune in the third line has been damaged. It has been said that it should be read as a w-rune instead of a k-rune. This is also a false claim. A careful examination of the Istaby inscription reveals that it is to be understood as it is shown above, and its runes can therefore accordingly be transliterated in the following way:

s-f-a t-z h-s-r-i w u-l-a f-a
h-s-þ-u w u-l-a f-z h-s-e-r-u w u-l-a f-i-z
k-a-r-s i-t-r-u-n s-z þ-s-i s-z

Please click on the words in the transliteration above in order to see a corresponding Hebrew or Aramaic word for each Runic word!

Just like all of the other most ancient runic inscriptions of Blekinge, the Istaby inscription can easily be understood as a Semitic fertility cult text, whose language is closely related to Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. We can therefore easily write it by means of the Hebrew script:

The meaning of this is:

The bareness cuts off. My want and strength cleaves.
Its desire and strength separates. Its want and strength separates
rich cisterns of fullness, fissures of fullness.

For general information about the language of the ancient Blekinge inscriptions, please click here.


The Gematria of the Istaby Inscription

The gematria of the Istaby inscription is summarised in the table below. For an explanation of the numerical values of the runes, please click here.


The main thing to notice in the gematria of the Istaby inscription is that the total gematrical sum of the whole inscription is equal to 539, i.e. 777.

It is also interesting to note that the number of runes on the front of the stone is equal to 37. The number of 37 appears to have been important, because there are 37 words in the Björketorp inscription, there are 37 runes in the incription of Tjurkö bracteate 1, and there appear to have been 37 runes in the Flegehall inscription. Further one can note that the 37 runes are divided in two rows with 22 and 15 runes respectively, which yields the difference 22-15 = 7.