Minutes of Open Meeting

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Date: October 26, 2003

Location: Univ. of Dayton Sears Recital Hall

Speaker: Dr. Daniel Eylon, University of Dayton

Topic: Questioning the Authenticity of James’ (Jesus Brother) Bone-Box (Ossuary) Based on Surface-feature Analysis

A 2ooo year old limestone bone-box (ossuary), disclosed last October in Israel, caused an international stir, as it carried an Aramaic inscription reading: “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus”. It has been promoted by the editor of the “marginal” journal Biblical Archaeological Reviews (BAR) as an important historical document attesting to the historical existence of Jesus. A close examination of the published inscription features analysis, routinely done in our lab for aerospace component failure analysis, revealed that most of the incised letters were too sharp, almost without patina, and with no surface scratches. On the other hand, other incised geometrical decorations were well weathered as expected from a 2000 -year –old limestone box. A close-up inspection during a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, where the box was on display, confirmed the former conclusions. It has also shown that the only authentic part of the inscription is the word Jesus. Further investigation has shown that the “latter-day” part of the inscription was most probably copied from 3 ossuaries published in the 1994 official catalogue of the Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel that documents over 800 such boxes.

The history of ossuaries, surface-analysis techniques, and comparisons with other contemporary boxes was presented and discussed.

Respectfully Submitted,

Donna Bealer, Secretary

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