Daily Archives: June 29, 2011

Ossuary belonging to Miriam, granddaughter Caiaphas, discovered

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced earlier today that a 2,000 year old ossuary belonging to a daughter of the Caiaphas family of high priests has been discovered.

The ancient ossuary bears an Aramaic inscription from the time of the Second Temple: ‘Miriam Daughter of Yeshua Son of Caiaphas, Priests [of] Ma’aziah from Beth ’Imri’. The researchers: “The prime importance of the inscription lies in the reference to the ancestry of the deceased — Miriam daughter of Yeshua — to the Caiaphas family, indicating the connection to the family of the Ma’aziah course of priests of Beth ’Imri”. The high priest Yehosef Bar Caiaphas, is especially famous for his involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Three years ago the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery acquired a decorated ossuary bearing an engraved inscription. The ossuary was discovered by antiquities robbers who plundered an ancient Jewish tomb of the Second Temple period. During the course of the investigation it was determined that the ossuary came from a burial cave in the area of the Valley of Elah, in the Judean Shephelah.

To check the authenticity of the artifact and the significance of the engraved inscription, the Israel Antiquities Authority turned to Dr. Boaz Zissu of the Department of the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology of Bar Ilan University and Professor Yuval Goren of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations of the Tel Aviv University.

This week, the two scientists published the results of their research, which summarize the importance of the find and confirm its genuineness. The study appears in the Israel Exploration Journal (Volume 61) published this week by the Israel Exploration Society.

This photo of the decorated ossuary with the inscription is made available through the courtesy of Dr. Boaz Zissu, Bar-Ilan University. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Ossuary of Miriam, daughter of the Caiaphas family of High Priests. Photo: Dr. Boaz Zissu, Bar-Ilan University.

Ossuary of Miriam, daughter of the Caiaphas family of High Priests. Photo: Dr. Boaz Zissu, Bar-Ilan University.

We are not surprised to hear of the discovery of an ossuary of another member of the Caiaphas family of high priests. We recall that a tomb containing 12 ossuaries, two of which contained the name of the well-known family of high priest by the name of Caiaphas, was discovered south of Jerusalem in 1990. One ossuary bore the inscription Qafa. The other bore the name Yehosef bar Qayafa (Jospeh, son of Caiaphas), and Yehosef bar Qafa (Joseph, son of Caiaphas). The beautiful ossuary is now displayed in the Israel Museum.

Caiaphas, son-in-law of Annas, was a leading character in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus .

So the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. (John 18:12-13 NAU)

This is just one more in a long series of archaeological discoveries showing the historical context of the New Testament.

HT: Joseph Lauer