Tuesday, June 12, 2018

More on the Tiberias cave-tomb

ARCHAEOLOGY: Builders Accidentally Discover Roman-era Catacomb of Rich Jewish Family in Northern Israel. The names on the ossuaries found in the 2000-year-old Tiberian catacomb are in Greek but all that proves is that the Jews in Galilee were multicultural, archaeologists say (Ruth Schuster, Haaretz). I noted this story yesterday, but this article has new information.

First, the burials were in ossuaries, which points to it being a Jewish tomb.

Second is the matter of the names on the ossuaries:
More information will have to await proper excavation, which has not begun yet, Alexandre stresses. But meanwhile it can be said that the archaeologists also found the names of the dead, carved onto the ossuaries in Greek.

The multicultural Jews of Tiberias

Jewish names in Greek on graves in the Holy Land? Absolutely. It was very much the practice. Half the graves in ancient Jerusalem from the same era are also inscribed in Greek, Aviam says. Other inscriptions found in Tiberias itself, linked to Jews from the 3rd century, were in Greek too.

“It just means that the people buried in the cave had been people who knew Greek. It doesn’t speak to their Judaism but to their internationality, their multiculturalism,” Aviam explains. “They would have had cultural ties with Greek-speaking people. Jews could keep their mitzvot and write on their graves in Greek.”
Third is this anomaly:
But if the Jewish burial cave in Tiberias dates to the 1st or even the early 2nd century, there’s a snag. At least according to the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus, Tiberias wasn’t supposed to have Jews yet.
See the article for discussion.

Background here.

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