The writing on the wall, tablet and floorThe article is so richly detailed (a must-read-it-all) that it is hard to excerpt further. But this snippet seems timely.
An ambitious international project led by two adventurous Israeli classicists aims to analyze and catalog every ancient inscription that has been made in Israel. Their meticulous work includes crawling through caves and cellars and Indiana Jones-style adventures.
By Ofer Aderet Tags: Palestinians Palestinian Authority West Bank Gaza
Over the last few years. Hannah Cotton-Paltiel and Jonathan Price have spent much of their time far from the comfortable confines of the Ivory Tower, crawling through caves with flashlights in their hands, squeezing into crowded old basements and storage spaces, and rummaging through piles of old stones in private collections, churches and museums around the world. Cotton-Paltiel, who holds the Shalom Horowitz Chair in classics at the Hebrew University, and Price, who chairs the parallel department at Tel Aviv University, are part of the Israeli arm of a unique international project that bears the scientific title Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae.
The instincts that Price and Cotton-Paltiel have developed allow them to easily recognize and weed out attempted forgeries. For example, Cotton-Paltiel has learned from experience that "there is no such thing as a complete inscription on a stone that is broken on all sides."Again, read it all.
Other cases demand more careful scrutiny. "Occasionally you read in the paper about sensations such as inscriptions connected to the brother of Jesus, and so on," explains Cotton-Paltiel. "We will go check them out for ourselves. In many cases we found that in a place where other people found riches beyond the imagination, there were merely worthless stones."
Last week, a front-page story in this newspaper included a photograph of an inscription that was discovered recently in a cave beneath a residential building in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. The person who made the discovery is Simcha Jacobovici, a journalist and filmmaker who deals in archaeology. The article said that he believes the discovery is earth-shattering and could potentially change everything we know about Christianity and its founder.
As in similar cases, Price is maintaining a guarded suspicion for now. "I won't believe it until I see it for myself," he says.
Background on the project is here and links. Background on that ongoing front-page inscription story is here and links