The Ossuary of Caiaphas’ Granddaughter

Israel Antiquities Authority

This is almost oddly coincidental. I have spent some time briefly responding to Simcha Jacobovici’s Response to the criticisms of his film “The Nails of the Cross,” which was aired on the History Channel in April 2011 as part of a series called the Secrets of Christianity. Part of Jacobovici’s argument deals with two ossuaries discovered in a Jerusalem tomb. Both were inscribed, one read “Joseph son of Caiaphas” and the other, simply “Caiaphas.” For this reason, it was believed that this Second Temple tomb belonged to the priestly family Caiaphas. Today the IAA released a press statement that the ossuary of Caiaphas’ daughter had been discovered, though they received it almost three years ago after it was discovered by antiquities thieves. The announcement is likely intended to coincide with the publication of Profs. Yuval Goren’s and Boaz Zissu’s article about the importance and genuineness of the ossuary in IEJ vol. 61.

The inscription on the ossuary reads: ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma’aziah from Beth ’Imri’ and indicates which priestly course the family of Caiaphas belonged. The priest of Ma’aziah were the last shift of the 24 shifts of priests to serve in the Temple. The ossuary is decorated with two rosettes, which is a common motif on ossuaries. While it was not discovered in an official archaeological dig, it was said to be uncovered in the Judean Shephelah (the low lying hills to the east of Judea). The double rosette motif is also very similar to the more simply designed “Caiaphas.”

Three years ago the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery acquired a decorated ossuary bearing an engraved inscription. The ossuary was discovered by antiquities robbers who plundered an ancient Jewish tomb of the Second Temple period. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the ossuary came from a burial cave in the area of the Valley of Elah, in the Judean Shephelah. To check the authenticity of the artifact and the significance of the engraved inscription, the Israel Antiquities Authority turned to Dr. Boaz Zissu of the Department of the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology of Bar Ilan University and Professor Yuval Goren of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations of the Tel Aviv University.

This week, the two scientists published the results of their research, which summarize the importance of the find and confirm its genuineness. The study appears in the Israel Exploration Journal (Volume 61) published this week by the Israel Exploration Society…[see rest here]

Jim West has a nice transcription of the inscription: The ‘Miriam, Daughter of Yeshua, Son of Caiphas’ Ossuary
Nice article at Times Union with other pics: Israeli scholars say biblical burial box genuine
Hebrew Article: נחשפה גלוסקמת בת למשפחת כהנים גדולים
Arutz Sheva: Ancient High Priest Family Sarcophagus Discovered
HT: J. Lauer

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