Discovery of the Caiaphas Family Tomb

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Many archaeological finds in Israel result from the chance uncovering of various ancient remains during the course of construction work. Some of these fortuitous discoveries prove to be of tremendous importance for understanding the history and archaeology of the land of Israel.

Many archaeological finds in Israel result from the chance uncovering of various ancient remains during the course of construction work. Some of these fortuitous discoveries prove to be of great importance for understanding the history and archaeology of the land of Israel.

One such find is a Second Temple period burial cave which was discovered in December, 1990, in the Peace Forest near the North Talpiyyot neighborhood of Jerusalem during the development of a park by the Jerusalem Fund. The contents of this burial cave added new and important data to the corpus of Second Temple period ossuary inscriptions, and to our knowledge of burial customs of that period.

The Discovery

The construction superintendent reported the find to the Antiquities Authority after part of the tomb’s roof had collapsed and revealed the burial cave. When I arrived at the site, I found a rock-hewn loculi burial cave, the type of tomb that is typical of the Second Temple period in Jerusalem. The cave is located in an area in which scores of other such tombs have been discovered, all part of the Jerusalem necropolis which stretches southward as far as the vicinity of the Arab village of Sur Bahir.

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Issue33-34

This article by Zvi Greenhut and sidebar by David Bivin appeared in Jerusalem Perspective‘s Caiaphas Family Tomb issue. The chance find of Caiaphas’ tomb was one of the twentieth century’s most important archaeological discoveries. Jerusalem Perspective was honored to be the first to publish photographs of the tomb, its ossuaries and its important inscriptions. The double issue (July-October 1991) also included archaeologist Ronny Reich‘s “Ossuary Inscriptions from the Caiaphas Tomb,” David Flusser’s “…To Bury Caiaphas, Not to Praise Him,” and David Bivin’s introduction to the issue, “Perspective on the Caiaphas Tomb.”


  • Zvi Greenhut

    Zvi Greenhut

    Dr. Zvi Greenhut heads the Israel Antiquities Authority's Artifacts Treatment and Conservation Department. Greenhut was the IAA archaeologist who excavated the Caiaphas family tomb in Jerusalem in 1990. Greenhut has participated in the excavations at Tel Dor, Tel Jokneam and Manahath in Jerusalem, and led…
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