Zwinglius Redivivus

Yigal Levin’s Report on the ‘Fish Tomb’ Conference

Posted in Archaeology by Jim on December 29, 2012

Because accusations have been made that Kloner fled the conference (see the comments) at its conclusion without taking questions (implying that he didn’t wish to or was afraid to), I post this conference perspective by Yigal Levin (who was in attendance).

Yigal offers both a comment on the conference and the  abstract of Kloner’s paper- which too is below, for which I thank him-

The conference was not a press conference but a full-day academic conference on the history and archaeology of Jerusalem, of which I was one of the organizers. Kloner’s paper (presented together with Boaz Zissu) was given as part of a regular session on the Second Temple Period. The full text is available in Hebrew in the conference proceedings, with an abstract in English which I have copied below. There was no discussion time at the end of the session because the conference was behind schedule. Jacobovici tried to yell accusations at Kloner, but since the session chair announced that it was lunchtime, people just got up and walked out. As far as I know, Jacobovici then simply left.

From the perspective of most people in the profession in Israel, the Talpiot cave is really a dead issue – just another not-very-carefully excavated burial cave from that period, which does not add a whole lot to our overall knowledge. There were, however, quite a few interesting papers given, including a look at an Iron-Age underground cistern discovered by Eli Shukrun on the west side of the valley, adjacent the Temple Mount.

Burial Cave 1050 in East Talpiot, Jerusalem
Amos Kloner and Boaz Zissu

The East Talpiot burial cave was uncovered at a construction site and examined relatively quickly, within a short and clearly insufficient time, on 16 April 1981, as part of excavation permit no. 1050. The archaeological team found that the cave comprised of nine kokhim which contained primary burials (or inhumations – the skeletons lied supine) and eight ossuaries, inserted in antiquity into four of the kokhim. The kokhim which contained the ossuaries also contained some scattered bones of earlier burials. It was clear that the bone collection was not done properly and later generations did not take great care with their predecessors’ remains. The cave belonged to a Jerusalemite family during the second half of the first century BCE and the first century CE.

The cave contained the burials of at least 21 individuals of different ages and it can be assumed that the total number reached up to 26 individuals.

The human remains were badly damaged by the ultraorthodox and by the construction workers, and when the ossuaries were finally inserted back into the kokhim on top of the inhumations, they were placed without knowledge of their original locations.

In the opinion of the present authors, all of the hypotheses and proposals that were made recently, connecting the cave findings to early Christians, to Joseph of Arimathea, to Christian apostles, or to a community of Jewish-Christians – are unsubstantiated.

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2 Responses

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  1. Joe Zias said, on December 29, 2012 at 11:49

    Was this recorded as it should be put up on youtube for those colleagues unable to attend. It was a command performance, worth of an Oscar, supporting best actress award goes to Jonah and the Wail, their fund raiser, who, months in advance, tipped off the archaeological community as to what was really going on,

  2. LC said, on December 29, 2012 at 15:22

    Well done. It was worthwhile posting what Yigal Levin wrote and we now know what exactly went on. That the Talpiot tomb is a dead issue in Israel is no surprise, however what Levin judged as a “not-very-carefully excavated burial cave” is exactly what the opposing camp is waiting for continue the controversy.


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