Tuesday, December 02, 2003

THE CANADIAN MUSEUM OF CIVILIZATION in Ottawa is opening a new exhibit, Ancient Treasures and the Dead Sea Scrolls, on Thursday. Excerpt from the Toronto Star article:

The exhibition includes portions of three of the first Dead Sea scrolls ever found � the Isaiah B Scroll (one of the oldest biblical manuscripts known), the Community Rule and the War Scroll. The Isaiah B Scroll has never been displayed, even in Israel, before being brought to Canada.

A somewhat different version of this exhibition was on view in Montreal at the Museum of Archeology and History over the summer.

But the Ottawa museum is putting more emphasis on some of the artefacts accompanying the scrolls � seven of which were not part of the Montreal exhibit and will be making their Canadian debut in Ottawa.

One of the most startling of these artefacts: a replica of a foot bone, discovered in Jerusalem in 1968 just after the Six Day War, which provides the only known physical link to the practice of crucifixion.

"It's the cast of a heel bone," says [curator Adolfo] Roitman, an energetic 46-year-old visionary who moved to Israel from Argentina as a young anthropology scholar.

"This heel, dating back almost two thousand years, was discovered in an ossuary, which is a box for bones," he explains.

The heel bone had a nail through it, and a piece of wood was still attached to the nail. According to Roitman, the discovery of this remnant had major implications for the reconstruction of history.

"The practice of crucifixion was a reality for many years in the eastern Mediterranean," Roitman explains. "It was a widespread practice of the Romans, and thousands of victims were crucified.

"But for centuries, we had to rely on literary descriptions and images rendered by artists using their imaginations. Until this discovery, we had no physical indication of just how it was done, in the case of Jesus and

There's more on this heel bone in the article by Joe Zias cited here.

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