A 2000-year-old burial box found in the Valley of Elah, southwest of Jerusalem – the legendary location of the battle between David and Goliath – could reveal the location of the family of Caiaphas, the high priest involved in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, according to Israeli researchers.
The ancient limestone burial boxes containing skeletal remains — called ossuaries — are fairly common archaeological finds from the 1st century BCE to the 1st century AD period.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University”s Department of Archaeology claim that a rare inscription on the ossuary confiscated antiquities looters three years ago, could reveal the home of the family of the biblical figure and high priest Caiaphas prior to their exodus to Galilee after 70 AD.
Most ancient ossuaries are either unmarked or mention only the name of the deceased. The inscription on this ossuary is extraordinary in that the deceased is named within the context of three generations and a potential location, says Prof. Yuval Goren, who was called on to authenticate the fascinating discovery.
The full inscription reads: “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphus, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”
The Maaziah refers to a clan that was the last mentioned order of 24 orders of high priests during the second temple period, Prof. Goren said.
Though it is possible that Beit Imri refers to another priestly order, say the researchers, it more probably refers to a geographical location, likely that of Caiaphus” family”s village of origin.
It was probably located on the slopes of Mount Hebron, they added.
The study has been published in the Israel Exploration Journal.