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Limestone Box

One of the most precious Biblical artefacts of all time to go on public display


It is known of one of the most precious Biblical artefacts of all time, and it is about to go on public display.  It is the James ossuary – a limestone box which is said to have held the bones of the purported brother of Jesus and if proven correct, would be the first physical link to Jesus. The first century AD burial box contains an Aramaic inscription that reads "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus."

The box was carved from a single piece of limestone, which was typical of burial boxes used by Jews of first-century Palestine. In those days, bodies were left in a cave for a year before the bones were collected and put in a box.

The limestone box has been at the centre of the most controversial forgery cases in decades.  The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) had tried to prove in court that the items were forged by antiquities collector Oded Golan, but they failed in their ruling and subsequently tried, unsuccessfully, to gain ownership of the item. It is also alleged, that the item was vandalized by the Israeli government before being returned to its owner.

Golan originally bought the box, for a pittance in the 1970s from an East Jerusalem antiquities dealer. He had it for more than 25 years before Professor Andre Lemaire pointed out the incredible significance of the letters etched into the side. It is therefore unsurprising that the object immediately became the centre of a high-profile legal case.  In fact, the moment word of the object reached the IAA, Golan was immediately arrested and put on trial.  If it is in fact authentic, as the court ruled, it provides convincing evidence that Jesus had a brother and would be the first object ever found from the family of Jesus.

The stone burial box has been hidden from public view at the Israel Antiquities Authority since 2003. But it has now been released to be displayed around the world and for the first time, Golan plans to tell his whole story.

"The inscription is ancient for sure. We proved that at the trial,” he said. “It's time to have this debate in a public exhibition, and let people decide for themselves."

By April Holloway

Source: NY Daily News [November 10, 2013]



Peter Harrap's picture

So I was wondering, was Jesus the ONLY man of that name alive at that time who had a brother called James and a Dad called Joseph?? THere were certainly DOZENS of families with such common names. There still are: it is not evidence of anything at all. It is just a box someone has written something on, nobody knows, or can prove when


aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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