Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A "hastily documented" 1st century CE tomb in Jerusalem

A "HASTILY DOCUMENTED" FIRST-CENTURY CE TOMB in Jerusalem is reported by Hadashot Archeologiot. Excerpts:
The hurried process and poor lighting conditions in the cave precluded a proper examination and description of the cave’s contents. Artifacts were not removed from the cave and once its documentation was done, it was sealed and covered with soil. ...

The cave was carefully hewn with a serrated mallet that left diagonal stone dressing marks on its sides, which are mostly upright and slightly curved toward the top. ...

Seven complete ossuaries, at least eight lids and numerous ossuary fragments were discovered in the cave; no other artifacts were found. The ossuaries were concentrated on the western and eastern stone benches (Fig. 3). All the ossuaries were made of soft limestone, except for a single ossuary of hard limestone. Two of the ossuaries were closed with a lid; one of the lids was attached to the ossuary with a bronze nail. Due to the haste, only two complete ossuaries and several decorated fragments were documented (Figs. 4, 5). A two-line Hebrew inscription (length of inscription 0.37 m; Figs. 6, 7) was incised on the hard-limestone ossuary. The letters were clearly engraved, separated from each other and painted blue. The inscription reads: “Alexa bar Shalom barat Alexa/Cursed is the one who casts me from my place”. Careless engravings or traces of faded paint were noted on other ossuaries; these may also be inscriptions that require further research for decipherment. Some of the ossuary fragments were consolidated together with bone fragments in the corners of the chamber and it seems that these ossuaries had been shattered by grave robbers who damaged the cave; the robbers had apparently penetrated into the cave via the entrance, which was later blocked.

Via Todd Bolen at the Bible Places blog, who is not impressed with the haste of the documentation.