Rare inscriptions on a 2,000-year-old burial box may provide fresh insight to the death of Jesus Christ, researchers said.
Called an ossuary, the limestone box could reveal the home of Caiaphas, the high priest involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. The Israel Antiquities Authority, which confiscated the ossuary from looters three years ago, passed it along to Prof. Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology who led the authentication effort.
“Beyond any reasonable doubt, the inscription is authentic,” Goren said, after conducting a thorough examination of the limestone box, which boasts decorative rosettes in addition to the inscription.
Goren’s findings mean the unusually descriptive inscription sheds light on one of the men behind Jesus’ death. The full inscription reads: “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphus, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri,” naming the deceased within the context of three generations and a potential location.
The Maaziah refers to a clan that was the last mentioned order of 24 orders of high priests during the second temple period, Goren explained. While there are some records of the clan in Talmudic sources that detail their lives after they spread into the Galilee in 70 AD, the reference to Beit Imri gives new insight into the family’s location prior to their migration.
Though it is possible that Beit Imri refers to another priestly order, the researchers said, it more probably refers to a geographical location, likely that of Caiaphus’ family’s village of origin.