The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries
Each of the examined caves and each cave’s associated ossuaries in the Jerusalem area, exhibit in their patinas a unique elemental fingerprint. The patina of the unprovenanced James Ossuary exhibits geochemical fingerprints consistent with the patinas of the Talpiot ossuaries. This strengthens the contention that James Ossuary belong to the assemblage of the Talpiot ossuaries.
By A. Rosenfeld
Geological Survey of Israel,
Time Gate, Inc.,
Long Beach, N.Y.
H. R. Feldman
The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School,
Touro College, Division of Paleontology, N.Y.
American Museum of Natural History,
Department of Geomicrobiology, ICBM,
Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet, Oldenburg,
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Thanks for the report. It answers one question, but opens up others. One of these is: can this report explain a possible missing ossuary?
In the "Final Days of Jesus," Shimon Gibson outlined the chronology and circumstances of the discovery and excavation of the Talpiot tomb. Significantly, in his sections of the tomb, he shows all the ten known ossuaries buried beneath the soil, although he remarks that it wasn't clear to him that all were fully buried. He states that Gath removed the ossuaries from the tomb on Friday, 28 March 1980, two days before Gibson arrived on Sunday, 30 March. No excavation work was conducted on Shabbat, although some children managed to get into the tomb to collect some bone fragments.
Gibson received information on the location of the ossuaries from Gath, and presumably was able to map the impressions they left, but unfortunately no one cross-referenced the location codes on the plan with the accession numbers given the ossuaries by the Rockerfeller Museum. As a result the archaeological context was lost.
Gibson also described a roofed vestibule a the entrance to the tomb that had been exposed by blasting, and in which Gath had reported finding ossuary fragments. This would have been the logical location for the James ossuary, which may have fallen into the hands of looters, first in antiquity, and then again just before Gath arrived.
If those vestibule fragments were kept by the Rockerfeller, it would be very useful to test and compare them with the James ossuary.
2. Gibson "shows all the ten known ossuaries buried beneath the soil, although he remarks that it wasn't clear to him that all were fully buried." Very interesting indeed. Gibson's map shows very clear that the soli line was higher than the ossuaries tops (NEA 69:3-4 , P. 121; Atiqot 29, 1996).
3. The vestibule fragments were known to the late Gath, and Gibson mentions them as well. Yet Kloner doesn't mention them in Atiqot 29 (1996). It's another interesting fact that should be explained.
All in all - Cooper's comment does a great service anyway: it seems to accept the James ossuary original location: the Talpiot Tomb. Since suggesting two ocurences of looting - ancient and modern - seems a bit problematic, we might still be facing an interesting question: if Gath extracted all the 10 ossuaries from the tomb, as Gibson tells us, in a few hours, then it could be "looted" only on the road to the Rockefeller museum or after the "shipment" arrived at the museum. Since Gibson started his involvement only on the next Sunday, we must conclude that he can not answer this question, since his presence started too late.
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