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Ancient burial box offers biblical clues

Aug. 29, 2011 at 9:29 PM   |   Comments

TEL AVIV, Israel, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A 2,000-year-old burial box could reveal the location of the family of Caiaphas, the high priest involved in the crucifixion of Jesus, Israeli researchers say.

Ossuaries -- ancient limestone burial boxes -- are common archaeological finds from the first century B.C. to the first century A.D.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say the inscription on an ossuary confiscated from antiquities looters three years ago could reveal the home of the family of the biblical figure and high priest Caiaphas prior to their exodus to Galilee after A.D. 70, a TAU release reported Monday.

While most ancient ossuaries are either unmarked or mention only the name of the deceased, the inscription on this one is extraordinary, in that the deceased is named within the context of three generations and a potential location, says Yuval Goren of TAU's Department of Archaeology, who was called on to authenticate it.

The full inscription reads: "Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri."

The Maaziah refers to an order of high priests during the second temple period of Jewish history, Goren said. The ossuary is thought to come from a burial site in the Valley of Elah, southwest of Jerusalem, the legendary location of the battle between David and Goliath.

Beit Imri was probably located on the slopes of Mount Hebron, the researchers said.

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