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The Israel Antiquities Authority recently acquired a decorated limestone ossuary purportedly from a burial cave in the area of the Elah Valley. An inscription, incised on the front of the ossuary, reads: ('Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priests of Maaziah from Beth Imri'). The script is formal, of the style common in ossuary inscriptions in Jerusalem of the late Second Temple period. On palaeographic grounds, it should be dated to the late first century BCE or to the first century CE. The prime importance of the inscription lies in the reference to the ancestry of the deceased the well-known family of Caiaphas priests active in the first century CE. The article discusses whether Beth Imri is a toponym or the name of a priestly family that settled there. The relatively careless execution of the design suggests that this ossuary was produced in a Judaean workshop and can be dated to 70-135 CE, a dating supported by two pottery oil-lamps apparently found in the burial cave. Since the ossuary in question was not found in a controlled excavation and due to its importance, it was subjected to scientific analyses in order to address the question of authenticity. The examinations focused on the patina coating the stone surface, with emphasis on the inscribed area. The patination of the stone, in and around the inscription, indicates a complex process that occurred over a prolonged sequence of time, which is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in laboratory conditions. It may be concluded, therefore, that the patina and the inscription should be considered authentic beyond any reasonable doubt.
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VOLUME 61 • NUMBER 1 • 2011
CONTENTS
1 Editors’ Announcement
2G
IDEON HADAS: Hunting Traps around the Oasis of ªEn Gedi
12 AREN M. MAEIR,ITZHAQ SHAI and LIORA KOLSKA HORWITZ: ‘Like a Lion
in Cover’: A Cylinder Seal from Early Bronze Age III Tell e§-¥afi/Gath,
Israel
32 KATHLEEN BIRNEY and BRIAN R. DOAK: Funerary Iconography on an Infant
Burial Jar from Ashkelon
54 ANAT MENDEL: Who Wrote the A¢iqam Ostracon from ¡orvat ªUza?
68 KATHLEEN ABRAHAM: An Egibi Tablet in Jerusalem
74 BOAZ ZISSU and YUVAL GOREN: The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of
Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Maªaziah from Beth ºImri’
96 YUVAL BARUCH,DANIT LEVI and RONNY REICH: The Tomb and Ossuary of
Alexa Son of Shalom
106 NOTES AND NEWS
113 REVIEWS
126 BOOKS RECEIVED — 2010
Page layout by Avraham Pladot
Typesetting by Marzel A.S. — Jerusalem
Printed by Old City Press, Jerusalem
Israel
Exploration
Journal
VOLUME 61 NUMBER 1
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL • 2011
I
E
J
61
1
ISRAEL EXPLORATION JOURNAL
Published twice yearly by the Israel Exploration Society and the Institute of
Archaeology of the Hebrew University, with the assistance of the Nathan
Davidson Publication Fund in Archaeology, Samis Foundation, Seattle WA,
and Dorot Foundation, Providence RI
Founders
A. Reifenberg, D. Amiran
Former Editors
Michael Avi-Yonah, Dan Barag, Jonas C. Greenfield, Baruch A. Levine,
Miriam Tadmor
Editorial Board
Shmuel A¢ituv and Amihai Mazar, Editors
Tsipi Kuper-Blau, Executive Editor
Joseph Aviram, President, Israel Exploration Society
Editorial Advisory Board
Gideon Avni, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Israel Ephªal, Baruch A.
Levine, Aren M. Maeir, Gloria Merker, Joseph Naveh, Ronny Reich, Myriam
Rosen-Ayalon, Zeev Weiss
Email: iej.editors@gmail.com
Books for review: Israel Exploration Journal, P.O.B. 7041, Jerusalem 91070,
Israel
Guidelines: http://israelexplorationsociety.huji.ac.il
Copyright © 2011 Israel Exploration Society
ISSN 0021-2059
The Editors are not responsible for opinions expressed by the contributors
ABBREVIATIONS
AASOR Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research
ADAJ Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan
AJA American Journal of Archaeology
AfO Archiv für Orientforschung
ANET Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament3, ed. J.B. Pritchard,
Princeton, 1969
BA The Biblical Archaeologist
BASOR Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
BT Babylonian Talmud
CAD Chicago Assyrian Dictionary
CIS Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum
DJD Discoveries in the Judaean Desert
DSD Dead Sea Discoveries
EI Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies
ESI Excavations and Surveys in Israel
IAA Reports Israel Antiquities Authority Reports
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal
JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JCS Journal of Cuneiform Studies
JEA Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies
KAI W. Donner and W. Röllig: Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften 1–3,
Wiesbaden, 1962–1964; 15, 2002
NEAEHL The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (English
Edition), Jerusalem, 1993
PEQ Palestine Exploration Quarterly
PT Palestinian Talmud
QDAP Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine
RA Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale
RB Revue Biblique
RE Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft
RQ Revue de Qumran
VT Vetus Testamentum
ZA Zeitschrift für Assyriologie
ZDPV Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATES
2011: $60 including postage or equivalent payable to
the Israel Exploration Society, P.O.B. 7041, Jerusalem 91070, Israel.
All subscribers are entitled to a 25% reduction on the publications of the Society.
Subscribers should give full name and postal address when paying their
subscription, and should send notice of change of address at least five weeks before
it is to take effect; the old as well as the new address should be given.
Single issue: $30 or equivalent.
VOLUME 61 • NUMBER 1 • 2011
CONTENTS
1 Editors’ Announcement
2G
IDEON HADAS: Hunting Traps around the Oasis of ªEn Gedi
12 AREN M. MAEIR,ITZHAQ SHAI and LIORA KOLSKA HORWITZ: ‘Like a Lion
in Cover’: A Cylinder Seal from Early Bronze Age III Tell e§-¥afi/Gath,
Israel
32 KATHLEEN BIRNEY and BRIAN R. DOAK: Funerary Iconography on an Infant
Burial Jar from Ashkelon
54 ANAT MENDEL: Who Wrote the A¢iqam Ostracon from ¡orvat ªUza?
68 KATHLEEN ABRAHAM: An Egibi Tablet in Jerusalem
74 BOAZ ZISSU and YUVAL GOREN: The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of
Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Maªaziah from Beth ºImri’
96 YUVAL BARUCH,DANIT LEVI and RONNY REICH: The Tomb and Ossuary of
Alexa Son of Shalom
106 NOTES AND NEWS
113 REVIEWS
126 BOOKS RECEIVED — 2010
Page layout by Avraham Pladot
Typesetting by Marzel A.S. — Jerusalem
Printed by Old City Press, Jerusalem
Israel
Exploration
Journal
VOLUME 61 NUMBER 1
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL • 2011
I
E
J
61
1
ISRAEL EXPLORATION JOURNAL
Published twice yearly by the Israel Exploration Society and the Institute of
Archaeology of the Hebrew University, with the assistance of the Nathan
Davidson Publication Fund in Archaeology, Samis Foundation, Seattle WA,
and Dorot Foundation, Providence RI
Founders
A. Reifenberg, D. Amiran
Former Editors
Michael Avi-Yonah, Dan Barag, Jonas C. Greenfield, Baruch A. Levine,
Miriam Tadmor
Editorial Board
Shmuel A¢ituv and Amihai Mazar, Editors
Tsipi Kuper-Blau, Executive Editor
Joseph Aviram, President, Israel Exploration Society
Editorial Advisory Board
Gideon Avni, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Israel Ephªal, Baruch A.
Levine, Aren M. Maeir, Gloria Merker, Joseph Naveh, Ronny Reich, Myriam
Rosen-Ayalon, Zeev Weiss
Email: iej.editors@gmail.com
Books for review: Israel Exploration Journal, P.O.B. 7041, Jerusalem 91070,
Israel
Guidelines: http://israelexplorationsociety.huji.ac.il
Copyright © 2011 Israel Exploration Society
ISSN 0021-2059
The Editors are not responsible for opinions expressed by the contributors
ABBREVIATIONS
AASOR Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research
ADAJ Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan
AJA American Journal of Archaeology
AfO Archiv für Orientforschung
ANET Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament3, ed. J.B. Pritchard,
Princeton, 1969
BA The Biblical Archaeologist
BASOR Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
BT Babylonian Talmud
CAD Chicago Assyrian Dictionary
CIS Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum
DJD Discoveries in the Judaean Desert
DSD Dead Sea Discoveries
EI Eretz-Israel: Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Studies
ESI Excavations and Surveys in Israel
IAA Reports Israel Antiquities Authority Reports
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal
JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JCS Journal of Cuneiform Studies
JEA Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies
KAI W. Donner and W. Röllig: Kanaanäische und aramäische Inschriften 1–3,
Wiesbaden, 1962–1964; 15, 2002
NEAEHL The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land (English
Edition), Jerusalem, 1993
PEQ Palestine Exploration Quarterly
PT Palestinian Talmud
QDAP Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine
RA Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale
RB Revue Biblique
RE Pauly-Wissowa’s Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft
RQ Revue de Qumran
VT Vetus Testamentum
ZA Zeitschrift für Assyriologie
ZDPV Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION RATES
2011: $60 including postage or equivalent payable to
the Israel Exploration Society, P.O.B. 7041, Jerusalem 91070, Israel.
All subscribers are entitled to a 25% reduction on the publications of the Society.
Subscribers should give full name and postal address when paying their
subscription, and should send notice of change of address at least five weeks before
it is to take effect; the old as well as the new address should be given.
Single issue: $30 or equivalent.
The Ossuary of ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of
Caiaphas, Priests [of] Maªaziah from Beth ºImri’
BOAZ ZISSU
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan
YUVAL GOREN
Tel Aviv University
ABSTRACT: The Israel Antiquities Authority recently acquired a decorated limestone
ossuary purportedly from a burial cave in the area of the ºElah Valley. An inscription,
incised on the front of the ossuary, reads: éøîà úéáî äéæòî îðäë àôé÷ øá òåùé úøá íéøî
(‘Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priests of Maªaziah from Beth
ºImri’). The script is formal, of the style common in ossuary inscriptions in Jeru-
salem of the late Second Temple period. On palaeographic grounds, it should be
dated to the late first century BCE or to the first century CE. The prime importance
of the inscription lies in the reference to the ancestry of the deceased — the well-
known family of Caiaphas priests active in the first century CE. The article
discusses whether Beth ºImri is a toponym or the name of a priestly family that
settled there. The relatively careless execution of the design suggests that this ossu-
ary was produced in a Judaean workshop and can be dated to 70–135 CE, a dating
supported by two pottery oil-lamps apparently found in the burial cave.
Since the ossuary in question was not found in a controlled excavation and due
to its importance, it was subjected to scientific analyses in order to address the
question of authenticity. The examinations focused on the patina coating the stone
surface, with emphasis on the inscribed area. The patination of the stone, in and
around the inscription, indicates a complex process that occurred over a prolonged
sequence of time, which is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replicate in
laboratory conditions. It may be concluded, therefore, that the patina and the
inscription should be considered authentic beyond any reasonable doubt.
THE Israel Antiquities Authority recently acquired an unprovenanced ossuary
purported to be from a burial cave in the area of the ºElah Valley. The ossuary
bears an inscription, deemed significant enough to study despite the object’s
doubtful origin. Two oil-lamps were apparently found in association with the
ossuary in the cave, which consisted of a single small chamber with kokhim
(niches).1
IEJ 61 (2011): 74–95 74
1We would like to thank the late Prof. Dan Barag and the late Prof. Hanan Eshel, as
well as Prof. Zeºev Safrai, Mrs. Nili Graicer and Mrs. Debby Stern for their assis-
tance. Special thanks are due to Amir Ganor, director of the Unit for the Prevention of
Antiquities Looting at the Israel Antiquities Authority. Needless to say, the authors
bear sole responsibility for this article. Financial support was received from the
Krauthammer Fund at the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and
Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. The scientific analyses of the rock surface and
coating materials were conducted in the Laboratory for Comparative Microarchaeology
The limestone ossuary (46×23×26 cm.; walls 2 cm. thick) has four feet and is
covered by a vaulted lid, which is fractured into six fragments. Some of the breaks
are recent. The façade (fig. 1) is adorned with a common design of two six-
petalled rosettes within circles, which are enclosed by a rectangular frame of a
zigzag pattern. A similar design, but with a single rosette, is carved on one of the
narrow faces of the ossuary (fig. 2); the remaining faces are blank. The ossuary is
intact and in a good state of preservation, except for a few small chips and
scratches on the walls. The façade is covered by a fine, uneven, light brown
patina. On the façade of the ossuary, a long Hebrew inscription is inscribed (see
below). The ossuary belongs to Rahmani types A1b–A1c (Rahmani 1994: 21–25);
these types are characterised by the use of a compass for the execution of the
design and the combination of kerbschnitt carving and fine incised lines. Such
ossuaries, dated to the century preceding the destruction of the Second Temple,
are known from the Jerusalem necropolis. It seems that they were in use in Judaea
until 135 CE, when, following the failure of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the Jewish
community was destroyed. The relatively careless execution of the design, in
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 75
of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations, Tel Aviv
University. ESEM analyses were carried out in the Wolfson Applied Materials
Research Center of Tel Aviv University, with the kind assistance of Dr. Zehava Barkai.
The analyses were financed with the help of a grant from the Early Israel programme
on behalf of the New Horizons Fund, Tel Aviv University. The authors thank Dr.
Smadar Gabrieli for her useful comments and assistance in editing this paper.
Fig. 1. Ornamented façade of ossuary; note the inscription on the façade, beneath the rim
conjunction with the date provided by the pair of oil-lamps described below (see
fig. 4 on p. 83), may indicate that this ossuary was produced in a Judaean work-
shop and can be dated approximately to 70–135 CE.
THE INSCRIPTION
The inscription (average letter height: 10–15 mm.; total length of inscription: 35.5
cm.), incised meticulously on the front of the ossuary, between the rim and the
frame surrounding the decoration, reads as follows (fig. 3):
éøîà úéáî äéæòî îðäë àôé÷ øá òåùé úøá íéøî
Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priests of Maªaziah
from Beth ºImri
76 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
Fig. 2. Ornamented short wall of ossuary
Fig. 3. Inscription incised on ossuary façade
The script is formal, of the style common in ossuary inscriptions in Jerusalem of
the late Second Temple period. On palaeographic grounds, the inscription should
be dated to the late first century BCE or to the first century CE (Misgav 1991:
16–17).
It was customary to use a regular mem or nun at the end of a word in ossuary
inscriptions, as in the word îðäë (‘priests’) in our inscription. Interestingly, the
name of the deceased, Miriam, originally ended with a regular mem, but a vertical
line was subsequently added, turning it into a final mem. For similar examples of
inattention to detail, see four cases in which the name Shalom is written as îåìù
(Ilan 2002: 249–250); instances of îåìù and îãà (Zissu and Ganor 2007: 6–7),
ððç éðá (Frey 1952: no. 1360), ôñåäé (Rahmani 1994: 893), and cases of
Menahem written on a single ossuary as îçðí ,íçðî, and îçðî (Bagatti and Milik
1958: 93).
The letter aleph in the words àôé÷ (‘Caiaphas’) and éøîà (‘ºImri’) is written in
a fairly cursive fashion. The left leg is missing, making it resemble a §ade or V.
Similar examples of aleph are found on ossuaries and on a bowl from the Jewish
cemetery in Jericho, in úéìâ øæòìà ïá øæòåäé ‘Yehoªezer son of Eleªazar Goliath’
(Hachlili and Killebrew 1999: 146, fig. IV.4); ìà[ð]úð úá äéøî ‘Maria daughter of
Net[an]ºel’ (Hachlili and Killebrew 1999: 148, fig. IV.8); àéá÷ò øæòåäé ‘Yehoªezer
Aqabyºa/Azabyºa’ (Hachlili and Killebrew 1999: 149, fig. IV.9); and in two
inscriptions with the name àéáæò/àéá÷ò ‘ªAqabyºa/ªAzabyºa’ (Hachlili and
Killebrew 1999: 152, fig. IV.14); and àéèìô/äèìô ‘Palta/Pelatyaº (Hachlili and
Killebrew 1999: 156, fig. IV.17). The same aleph is also found in the names àô÷
and àôé÷ øá óñåäé incised on ossuaries from the Caiaphas family cave in Jerusalem
(Reich 1992: 72–74) and on other ossuary inscriptions.
Also noteworthy are short vertical lines lightly incised to the right of the
inscription, about 2 cm. to the right of the letter mem. Apparently the writer began
to inscribe the mem there, but changed his mind and started the inscription further
to the left.
The first part of the text is familiar from other ossuary inscriptions: the name of
the deceased, Miriam, is followed by her father’s name, Yeshua. Next comes the
name of her grandfather, Caiaphas, with emphasis on his distinguished lineage as
a scion of a family of priests from the Maªaziah course. The inscription ends with
the deceased’s place of residence or birthplace: Beth ºImri. The prime importance
of the inscription lies in the reference to the ancestry of the deceased — she is
descended from the family of Caiaphas — and the connection to a priestly family
from the course of Maªaziah. The reference to her home town, Beth ºImri, a local-
ity otherwise not recorded, is an important contribution to geographical and
historical scholarship of Judaea.
78 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
DISCUSSION
Miriam
The name of the woman buried in the ossuary, Miriam, is the most common name
in the Jewish onomasticon of the late Second Temple period. Ilan (2002: 9,
242–248) documented almost 80 instances of this name in literary and
epigraphical texts of the period, including some Aramaic/Hebrew and Greek vari-
ants in ossuary inscriptions from Jerusalem and Judaea.
Yeshua
The name of Miriam’s father, Yeshua, is fairly common in literary and
epigraphical texts, including ossuary inscriptions. Ilan enumerated more than 100
documented cases in which this name appears in various forms in Aramaic/
Hebrew or Greek (Ilan 2002: 126–133).
Caiaphas
The wording of the inscription indicates that Caiaphas — Yeshua’s father and
Miriam’s grandfather — was a member of a prominent family of priests active in
the first century CE. The origins of the name àôé÷ are apparently non-Hebrew —
the name may derive from several Semitic etymologies (Klein 1929: 338; Reich
1992: 74–76; Ilan 2002: 408). Another family member, the High Priest Joseph son
of Caiaphas, became famous because of his involvement in the trial and crucifix-
ion of Jesus (Bickermann 1978: 82–138; Flusser 1992: 81–87; 1998: 195–206).
In 1990, Greenhut (1992) excavated a burial cave dating from the late Second
Temple period in the Jerusalem Peace Forest. One of the ossuaries in this cave
bore the name Caiaphas (àô÷); the name àôé÷ øá óñåäé (‘Joseph son of Caiaphas’)
was incised twice on another ossuary. This find constitutes archaeological docu-
mentation of the existence of a family known from historical sources: twice
Josephus mentions Joseph, called Caiaphas (Ant. 18:35, 95), who served as High
Priest from 18 to 36 CE. There is no mention of the given name of the High Priest
in the New Testament, where he is referred to only as Caiaphas (Matt. 26:3, 57;
John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 23, 28; Luke 3:2; Acts 4:6). The Tosefta explicitly
mentions ‘the family of the house of Caiaphai of Beth Mekoshesh … and some of
them were high priests’ (T. Yevamot 1:10; see also Reich 1992 and the discussion
and textual variants there). Rosenfeld suggests identifying Beth Mekoshesh with
Khirbet Marah el-Jumªa (Nabi Daniyºal), in the northern Hebron Hills, based on
the preservation of the word Mekoshesh in the Arabic name of the spring north of
the site, ªEin Qusis (Rosenfeld 1991: 206–218; see also Reeg 1989: 115, and other
opinions there). Amit, exploring the site, discovered considerable remains of a
Jewish settlement dating from the Second Temple period, including an olive press
and two ritual baths (Amit 1996: 21–23). The archaeological finds thus corrobo-
rate Rosenfeld’s suggestion.
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 79
Priests of Maªaziah
After mentioning the names of Miriam, her father and her grandfather, the inscrip-
tion identifies them as priests from the course of Maªaziah. Thus, the lineage of
the deceased is emphasised. Maªaziah/Maªaziahu is the last of the 24 priestly
courses that served in the Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Mishnah, ‘The
First Prophets ordained twenty-four courses, and for every course there was a
maªamad in Jerusalem, made up of priests, Levites and Israelites. When the time
was come for a course to go up, the priests and the Levites thereof went up to Jeru-
salem, and the Israelites that were of the selfsame course came together unto their
own cities to read the story of Creation’ (M. Taªanit 4:2).2
The list of 24 priestly courses, apparently formulated during the Second
Temple period and attributed to the time of King David appears in the Bible
(1 Chron. 24:18). The signatories to the pledge in the days of Nehemiah include
‘Maªaziah, Bilgai, Shemªaiah; these are the priests’ (Neh. 10:9).
This is the first reference to the Maªaziah course in epigraphic finds from the
Second Temple period. The names of other courses, such as Abijah, Eliashib,
Bilgah, Delaiah, Hakkoz, Shecaniah, Hezir,3Jehoiarib, Jakim (Jakin) and
Jeshebeab, are known from historical and epigraphic texts from the Second
Temple period, including inscriptions discovered in tombs (Ilan 2002: 8).
Some piyyutim and dirges that were composed and recited in synagogues in the
mishnaic and talmudic periods list the 24 priestly courses and note the locations in
the Galilee where the courses went after the destruction of the Temple (Kahane
1979: 9–29; Klein 1939: 162–165). Plaques with similar lists were placed in syna-
gogues in memory of the courses that served in the Temple. Fragments of such
inscriptions have been discovered in several places in Israel: Caesarea (Avi-
Yonah 1962: 137–139), Ashkelon (Sukenik 1935: 66–67) and Nazareth (Eshel
1991: 159–161).4
Beth ºImri5
The ending ‘from Beth ºImri’probably denotes the place of origin of the deceased
(Miriam) or of her entire family. Places of origin are mentioned in numerous
Second-Temple period burial inscriptions; some examples are ‘from Holon’
80 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
2Translation adapted from H. Danby, The Mishnah (London, 1933), p. 199.
3The course of Hezir is mentioned in the ‘Bnei ¡ezir’ inscription over the façade of the
tomb of this priestly family in Na¢al Kidron. This is perhaps the best-known tomb
inscription from the Second Temple period. See Avigad 1954: 59–66.
4Ilan believed that the fragments found at Kibutz Kissufim — Kh. Suq Mâzin (which
preserves the ancient name of Shuq Mazon – Sukamazôn — known from the Madaba
Map) belong to this category of inscriptions, but his proposal is dubious (Ilan
1973–74: 225–226).
5The first letter, we believe, is aleph and not ayin; cf. the aleph in the word àôé÷
(‘Caiaphas’) and the ayin in äéæòî (‘Maªaziah’).
(Naveh 1992: 192) and ‘from Jerusalem’ (Hachlili and Killebrew 1999: 156). For
other examples, see Rahmani 1994 (nos. 99, 139, 257, 290, 293, 404, 777, 797,
803). Beth ºImri is not known from other ancient texts, whether historical or
epigraphic.
Kefar ºImri was probably located in the Galilee, since the place name ‘is
included in the ‘Parma list’ of locations of synagogues in northern Israel, which
dates from the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century (Parma Ms., Italy,
1087/9, p. 24).6
The PT mentions a place known as àøîéà øôë (Kefar ºImra; Taªanit, 69a [Acad-
emy of Hebrew Language edition, p. 735]; see also parallels in Lamentations
Rabbah 2). Reeg (1989: 353–354) has summed up the scholarly opinions regard-
ing the location of Kefar ºImra (which in some versions is referred to as Kefar
Nimra). Press has suggested identifying Kefar ºImra with Beit ºUmmar (discussed
below) or with Khirbet ºEmra, located in the southern Hebron Hills, c. 7 km.
south-west of Dura and 4 km. south of Beit ºAwwa (Press 1952: 476; see also
Survey of Western Palestine, PEF map, sheet XXI, square Iw, Kh. ºEmra).
However, the fact that only sparse remains from the Byzantine period and the
Middle Ages were discovered at this site does not lend support to Press’s sugges-
tion (Kochavi 1972: 67, site 173).
It seems that the name is not related to the Aramaic word ºimmçr(øÚÅàÄ )mean-
ing ‘lamb’ (Sokoloff 2002: 50; Jastrow 1903: 51), since toponyms composed of
names of animals do not have a nisbe- form. In other words, Beth ºImri is not the
‘House of Lambs’, but the ‘House of the ºImri family’.7
We should consider the possibility that the name of the ancient village of Beth
ºImri is preserved in the Arabic form Beit ºUmmar, a village in the northern
Hebron Hills.8In the past it was suggested that Beit ºUmmar should be identified
with Maªarath, one of the towns belonging to the tribe of Judah — ‘Halhul, Beth-
Zur, Gedor, Maªarath, Beth-ªAnoth, and Eltekon, six towns with their villages’
(Josh. 15:59) — but there is no archaeological evidence to support this possibility
(Abel 1938: 91; Elliger 1934: 127–129; see above, Press’s suggestion that Kefar
ºImra was located here). It should be noted that the remains of a Jewish settlement
dating from the Second Temple period and the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt
were identified in Beit ºUmmar and at Khirbet Kufin, which is within the village
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 81
6We are grateful to Prof. Zeºev Safrai for bringing this source to our attention.
7We would like to thank Prof. S. A¢ituv for this suggestion.
8Beit ºUmmar (map. ref. OIG 1598/1142) and Khirbet Kufin (map. ref. OIG
1608/1143) appear on different maps, e.g. on British Mandate 1:20000 maps (Surif,
15/11, 1942; Beit Fajjar, 16/11, 1943).The identification of Beth ºImri with Bçth
ºUmmar is linguistically problematic, since the transposition of iinto uis very rare
(e.g., Biblical Michmâs(ñîëî) — Arabic Mu¤mâs). We wish to thank Prof. S. A¢ituv
for this remark.
limits.9They include the remains of a typical ritual bath; a rock-cut and stepped
installation, probably another ritual bath; burial caves; a large ossuary made of
hard stone (Tsafrir, Di Segni and Green 1994: 77, 169; for additional finds, see
Zissu 2001: 122–123).
Another possibility should, however, be considered. Beth ºImri might be the
name of a priestly family, not only a toponym.10 It might be the name of one of the
four priestly families that returned from the Babylonian Exile with the early
waves of the Returnees. Ezra 2:36–37 (= Neh. 7:39–42) mentions the sons of
Yedaªyah to the house of Yçšuaª (òåùé úéáì äéòãé éðá), the sons of ºImmçr(øîà), the
sons of Paš¤ur (øåçùô) and the sons of ¡ârim (íøç). These same priestly families
are also mentioned in the list of the people who married foreign women (Ezra
6:18–22).
According to the Baraitha (T. Taªanit 2:1; PT Tanit 4:2 68a (Academy of
Hebrew Language edition, pp. 727–728; BT Taªanit 27a), the four priestly fami-
lies that returned from the Exile split into 24 courses (mishmaroth). The name øîà
(ºImmçr) is a shortened form of the theophoric name ºAmaryâhu (åäéøîà) and in
the current form in Late Biblical and post-Biblical Hebrew ºAmaryâh(äéøîà). The
name of the priestly family ºImmçr appears in the form ºAmaryâh in the list of the
signatories of the covenant in Neh. 10:4. It is the first document in which the name
of the priestly family of Maªazyâh(äéæòî) is mentioned (Neh. 10:9), along with
other priestly families who composed the 24 priestly courses.
The splitting up of the four priestly families occurred quite early, if we are to
believe the list of the priests who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubabel and
Yçshuaª in Neh. 12:1–7, which in reality reflects the list of the priestly families in
the period of the High Priest Yôyâqim (Neh. 12:12–21), son of Yçshuaª and father
of ºElyâshiv, who was a contemporary of Nehemiah. In these lists the family of
Maªazyâh is mentioned as Maªadyâh (Neh. 12:5) and Môªadyâh (Neh. 12:17).11 It
seems that the lineage of Caiaphas was the course of Maªazyâh, which belonged to
the House of ºImmçr/Amaryâh. However, it is not impossible that Beth ºImri had
been named after the House of ºImmçr/Amaryâh which settled there.
82 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
9In view of the inscription, it is worth examining the relationship between the name
Caiaphas — a prominent family that seems to have lived in Beth ºImri — and Khirbet
Kufin — which perhaps preserves somehow the name of the Caiaphas family.
Linguistically, this possibility is problematic. The letter qof, as in Caiaphas, does not
usually switch with the letter kaf, as in Kufin. The transposition of the dipthong /ai/ in
Qayafa to /u/ in the toponym Kufin is also problematic.
10 We would like to thank Prof. S. A¢ituv for this solution.
11 The data in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah is, however, somewhat problematic. It seems
unrealistic that only three high priests officiated in the course of the 106 years which
elapsed between Yçshuaª and ºElyâshiv (including Yçshuaª and ºElyâshiv). Thus, we
may assume that the process of the splitting of the original four priestly families into
the 24 priestly courses took longer.
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 83
Fig. 4. The oil-lamps; a) top view; b) bottom view
a
b
THE OIL-LAMPS
According to the information in our possession, two pottery oil-lamps (fig. 4)
were also found in the burial cave. The lamps, which are similar in shape but differ
in size, were made in a mould and decorated with concentric circles around the
pouring hole. The nozzle is rounded, and there is a degenerate spiral on either
side. The handle of the smaller lamp was partly broken when it was attached
during the leather-hard stage. The handle of the larger lamp has not survived.
Although the type is fairly rare, these lamps should probably be associated with
the group of southern (‘Judaean’) oil-lamps common in Judaea between the two
Jewish revolts against Rome (for a similar lamp and a discussion of the relation
between this type and the Judaean lamps, see Rosenthal and Sivan 1978: 84, no.
346; Sussman 1982: 88, no. 145; 93, no. 160; 95, no. 166; 116, no. 225; 117, no.
228).
SCIENTIFIC EXAMINATION
Method
Since the ossuary in question was not found in a controlled excavation, it was
subjected to scientific analyses in order to address the question of authenticity.
The examinations focused on the surface of the stone and the outer crust, namely,
the patina coating the stone surface (Dorn 1998), with emphasis on the inscribed
area. The principal hypothesis was that if the surface had been subjected to normal
weathering processes and the patina covering the script had been created under
natural conditions, reflecting normal progression of sequential coating of the
stone over a prolonged period of time, the ossuary and the inscription on it should
be authentic. The examination of the patina followed in part the methodology
practiced in previous studies (i.e., Goren 2007 with references therein). Accord-
ing to this method, both in situ and detached samples of the outer crust were
analysed by a series of structural, mineralogical and chemical methods starting
with low-powered reflected light microscopy, through transmitted light
petrographic microscopy, to the environmental scanning electron microscope
(ESEM) accompanied by chemical determination of the different phases using the
ESEM energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS). The analyses consisted of the
following stages:
A. The first stage consisted of careful microscopic surface examination of the
entire length of the inscribed area, as well as of other parts of the ossuary.12
84 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
12 The examination was made under a Zeiss Stemi 2000-C stereomicroscope equipped
with an attached C-mount with a Nikon Coolpix P5000 camera and Nikon MDC lens,
at magnifications ranging between ×10 and ×200.
This was done in order to locate use and wear signs, pigments, rock-coatings
and other secondary materials, and isolated sediments that were attached to
the ossuary from the environment where it was presumably deposited. Each
letter along the length of the inscription was recorded and photographed. This
analysis was conducted in the storage facilities of the IAA.
B. On the same occasion, controlled samples were carefully extracted under the
stereomicroscope for further analyses. The samples were taken from several
points along the inscription with the aid of a scalpel. The following eight
samples were removed from different locations (fig. 5):
Sample 1. — Dark soil (presumably Terra Rossa) attached in places to the
surface, sampled for petrography.
Sample 2. — An overlaying layer of calcitic patina, covering the surface and
the script in places, was sampled for petrographic analysis.
Sample 3. — A sample of the very thin veneer of ochre (yellow-orange) film,
most probably representing biopatina, appearing underneath the soil and
the calcitic patina and sliding in many places into the letters, was taken for
petrographic analysis.
Sample 4. — A sample of the black stuff appearing in places over the assumed
biopatina of sample 3 was taken for petrographic analysis.
Sample 5. — A small block of the rock with the above-mentioned coating
materials was chiseled for the production of a cross-section to be exam-
ined in thin section under the petrographic microscope.
Sample 6. — A similar block as in sample 5, containing the upper crust, was
removed for ESEM analysis.
Sample 7. — A block including the assumed lower biopatina on rock
substrate, as in sample 3, was removed for ESEM analysis.
Sample 8. — A sample of the thin black veneer on the surface, as in sample 4,
was taken for ESEM analysis.
C. Following stage B, sample 5 was thin-sectioned in perpendicular orientation
to the surface (namely in cross-section), in order to examine the micro-stratig-
raphy of the rock coating. For this purpose, the sample was briefly glued by a
tiny drop of superglue to the base of a small polyvinyl cup with its cross-
section parallel to the bottom. Then the sample was gradually impregnated
with Buhler Epo-Thin low-viscosity epoxy resin within a desiccator of which
the air was slowly pumped out to form vacuum conditions, and then slowly
released (for more details, see Courty, Goldberg and Macphail 1989: 57–59).
D. Samples 2–5 were used for the preparation of standard petrographic thin
sections and examined under a Zeiss Axiolab Pol petrographic microscope
at×50–×400 magnifications, in order to identify the petrologic properties of
the base rock and the micromorphology of the coating materials.
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 85
86 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
Fig. 5. The location of the samples extracted for scientific analysis (sample numbers indi-
cated)
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 87
E. The other samples were subjected to micro-structural and chemical analyses
by an ESEM equipped with EDS.13 This specific instrument was chosen
because it allows for the examination of non-conducting, contaminated,
hydrated and even living samples without significant sample preparation, in
addition to those samples that have always been viewable under conventional
scanning electron microscopes. Therefore, the same samples could be used for
additional petrographic thin sectioning if needed. The samples were secured
to the carrying stabs in an angle that allowed the analysis of the rock coating
layers, enabling the in situ examination of each layer in SE and BSE modes
with the semi-quantitative determination of their elemental composition by
the EDS system.
F. Soil sample 1 was placed in a metallographic polyvinyl mould and impreg-
nated by epoxy using the above-described method. The resulting thin section
was studied under the petrographic microscope in order to reveal the possible
provenance and setting of the sediment where the stone was presumably
deposited until its discovery in modern times.
Results and Discussion
Petrographic examination of samples 5 and 6 revealed that the ossuary is made of
Senonian foraminiferous chalk of the Menuha Formation, containing Ó30%
planktonic foraminifera (Globigerinelloides spp., Heterohelix spp.) and calcare-
ous nannoplankton, and is devoid of any signs of local metamorphism. This rock
type is widespread in the Jerusalem vicinity and was commonly used for the
production of ossuaries during the first century CE. The soil coating it (sample 1)
was identified as Terra Rossa. This soil type is deposited in Israel over hard lime-
stones and dolomites in the sub-humid Mediterranean climatic zones, including
the ºElah Valley and the Judaean-Samarian Anticline.
The macroscopic and stereomicroscopic examinations of the different surfaces
of the stone, and particularly of the inscription, reveal several phenomena of rock
weathering and coating. The surface exhibits severe pitting and weathering, visi-
ble on the surface around and within the inscribed grooves (fig. 6). This
phenomenon is related to the precipitation of the calcite (CaCO3) in groundwater
in the form of carbonic acid. The pits are evenly spread throughout the entire ossu-
ary surface and within the letters, reflecting a non-selective process that affected
the entire artefact, not only parts of it. In principle, such processes can be repli-
cated artificially by exposing the surface to carbonic acid (such as soda water), but
in the case of the ossuary under discussion, the pitting and the letters are coated by
a sequence of other materials, including a thin veneer of brownish-ochre film
88 BOAZ ZISSU AND YUVAL GOREN
13 The study was made using the analytical Quanta ESEM at the Wolfson Applied Mate-
rials Research Center of Tel Aviv University.
coating the rock surface, overlaid by patches of darker and more coarsely-crystal-
line matter and infilled by brown earth (fig. 6). Therefore, the nature of these
coatings is crucial for the verification of the inscription’s authenticity.
Petrographic examination of the cross-section of the rock in sample 5 reveals a
thin micro-laminated skin of orange crust covering the rock surface. The ESEM
examination of the corresponding sample 6 (see below) indicates that this layer is
indeed a biofilm created by the activity of microbiota. The petrographic sample
reveals the interaction processes between the substrate (namely the base rock) and
the surface patina. The orange layer of the patina is set in direct contact with the
substrate, and in places it reflects some interaction with the rock by the absence of
a clear, smooth border line between them. Alarge body of analytical data points to
the development of such films as the result of bioactivity of certain types of
lichens and unicellular algae, but also bacteria and fungi (de los Rios and Ascaso
2005, with more references therein). The colouring of this crust is understood to
be the result of organic pigmentation of the surface by the related microbiota by
melanine (Saiz-Jimenez 1995), carotenoids (Krumbein 1992), or kerogene
(Beukes and Lower 1989). As mentioned above, this film appears on the inscribed
surface in a microlaminated form, denoting a sequence of colonisation events of
the surface by microbiota over time (Garcia-Vallès, Urzì and Vendrell-Saz 2002:
894–895). Another phenomenon that was observed in the thin sections was the
development of another, endolithic colouring front in sample 5 at the depth of
about 1 mm., denoting the activity of some endolithic microbiota as well.
Studies of weathering processes on calcareous rock surfaces from Mediterra-
nean climatic zones indicate that the development of various categories of
biogenic patina (microstromatolitic, microlaminated, monolayered) is dependent
upon several factors, such as the degrees of exposure and orientation of the rock
and the microenvironment around it (Garcia-Vallès et al. 1997; Garcia-Vallès et
al. 2000, Garcia-Vallès, Urzì and Vendrell-Saz 2002). The input of nutrients to the
rock surface from the surrounding is seen to be more significant to the degree of
the development of biofilms than the nature of the rock substrate, and this can also
differ in various locations even on the same rock (Dornieden, Gorbushina and
Krumbein 2000). Although we might never be completely familiar with the
circumstances of discovery of the ossuary, the micromorphological examination
of the orange coating indicates an evenly undisturbed development of this crust on
the ossuary and the inscription over a prolonged sequence of time.
The inspection of the outer, greyish calcitic crust (sample 2) under the higher
magnifications of the petrographic microscope (×200–×400) reveals general
calcitic, micritic to microsparitic composition. Fibrous and bipiramidal crystals,
presumably of calcium oxalates, can be also seen but are better observed under the
ESEM (fig. 7). The latter, probably in the form of whewellite (hydrated calcium
oxalate) and weddelite (calcium oxalate), are known to accompany biopatinas as
the result of lichen activities (Krumbein 2003).
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 89
Fig. 6. Stereomicroscopic views of the words àôé÷ (a) and îðäë (b), showing the intensive
pitting on the surface and within the letters, the biopatina (thin grey coating) and the upper
calcitic patina (darker incrustations throughout the surface); for scale, refer to fig. 1
a
b
Under the ESEM, the orange layer appears as fine-grained film, overlaid by
the grittier coat of the grey carbonate skin. Both in the thin section of sample 3
(at×400 magnification) and under the ESEM (fig. 8), this layer is seen to contain
numerous spherical bodies of microbiota, most likely representing unicellular
algae (Garcia-Vallès et al. 2000). Chemical analysis of this film by the EDS
reveals calcite, quartz (SiO2) and clay (in the form of alumo-silicates), with apatite
and minor values of iron and magnesium (fig. 8). The upper crust revealed the
presence of calcite with lesser amounts of clay, quartz and iron minerals.
To sum up, the lower film is a biopatina skin, which may be attributed to
lichens, moss, fungi, bacteria, or algae. An overlying layer of calcitic patina,
resulting from the re-crystallisation of calcium carbonate from groundwater, was
created on the stone surface.
In conclusion, the patination processes of the stone are in agreement with the
existing data about the nature of biopatination and secondary crystallisation of
calcite over rocks in the Mediterranean sub-humid climatic zones. This includes
the results of colonisation by epilithic and endolithic microbiota and the develop-
ment of progressive patination over the rock substrate, followed by crystallisation
of calcite after its precipitation in
groundwater. The microlaminated
nature of the epilithic patina and the
existence of an endolithic front, the
overlying calcitic crust and the even
process of pitting in and around the
inscription, indicate a complex process
that occurred over a prolonged sequence
of time, which is seemingly extremely
difficult — if not impossible — to
THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 91
Fig. 7. ESEM views of spherical bodies of microbiota, most likely representing unicellu-
lar algae, within the biopatina layer; (a) magnification ×9,000; (b) magnification ×13,000
Fig. 8. ESEM-EDS spectrum of the
biopatina layer in sample 7
b
a
replicate in laboratory conditions. It may be concluded, therefore, that the patina
and the inscription that it covers should be considered authentic beyond any
reasonable doubt.
CONCLUSIONS
Although the ossuary in question was not found in a controlled excavation — and
this can cast a shadow over the joy of scholarly publication — the inscription is of
great importance and should be brought to the attention of scholars and the
general public.
The first part of the inscription, which includes the names of the deceased and
her father — ‘Miriam daughter of Yeshua’ — is familiar from many inscriptions
incised on ossuaries in the Second Temple period. The reference to Miriam’s
grandfather — Caiaphas — is very interesting, because this family of priests is
known from literary and epigraphic texts. Perhaps some members of this family
moved to Jerusalem, where their burial cave was found, while the economic foun-
dations of the family remained back in their village, which may have been located
in the northern Hebron Hills. The reference to the connection between the
Caiaphas family and the twenty-fourth priestly course — Maªaziah — is
extremely important. As stated, this is the first mention of this course found in an
ancient inscription. Furthermore, the inscription tells us for the first time that the
lineage of Caiaphas family was the course of Maªazyâh. We have also discussed
the possibility that the course of Maªazyâh initially belonged to the House of
ºImmçr/ºAmaryâh.
It is not impossible, however, that Beth ºImri had been named after the House
of ºImmçr/ºAmaryâh which had settled there. As for the toponym, Beth ºImri, to
the best of our knowledge, no settlement by this name is mentioned in any ancient
text. We have discussed its possible identification with the Arab village of Beit
ºUmmar, where some remains of a Jewish village from the Second Temple period
were found. Even if Beth ºImri is indeed a toponym, its identification with Beit
ºUmmar is far from conclusive.
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THE OSSUARYOF MIRIAM DAUGHTER OF YESHUA SON OF CAIAPHAS 95
Article
In this article, the author suggests that the 'Mariam Ossuary inscription' should be read 'Mariam daughter of Yeshua' son of Caiaphas, priest of Ma'aziah from Beth 'Imri', that this inscription is Aramaic and not Hebrew, and that the preposition min occurs twice and not once. The author also notes that 'Mariam', rather than 'Miriam', is the ancient vocalization and suggests that although we cannot know with certainty if the Caiaphas of this ossuary is the high priest himself, it is surely a member of the same family.
Article
The article derives Judas's nickname 'Iskariót(h) from the Hebrew/Aramaic verb sāqar/seqar, and the noun 'ōt/'ôt (widely used in Biblical Hebrew and attested in the Talmud [=Aramaic 't/'t']), and interprets it as the "one who saw/gaze upon a sign" (cf., e.g., John 2:23, 4:48, 6:2,14,30 mentioning those who «saw signs» and came to be Jesus's followers; the verbs theōréō and 'oráō used in these passages correlate with the verb sāqar/seqar, "to look (at), gaze, see", and the noun sēmeîon (pl. sēmeîa) correlates with the term 'ōt/'ô, "sign"). The ex hypothesi "positive" character of Judas's nickname possibly explains the evangelists' renunciation of its interpretation. As an alternative etymology of Judas's nickname 'Iskariót(h), one can derive it from the Hebrew/Aramaic verb šāqar/šeqar ("to lie, deceive, slander", sc. "to violate (a treaty, etc.)", "to betray" [the latter meaning is attested in Samaritan Aramaic]) and the same noun 'ō/'ôt: the "one who slandered/resp. betrayed a sign", i.e. The one who brought false evidence against Jesus (cf.: Matt. 26:59 ff.; Mk. 14:55 ff.). In Jn. 6:70, Jesus himself defines Judas with the term diábolos; this word can be interpreted as "slanderer", "accuser".
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