At the end of December 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem. Park construction workers accidentally exposed a Second Temple-period tomb, which archaeologist Zvi Greenhut of the Israel Antiquities Authority was called to excavate. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” and it soon became clear that this was a tomb belonging to the Caiaphas family.
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.
At the end of December, 1990, one of the most significant New Testament-related archaeological discoveries ever made came to light in Jerusalem: the tomb of Caiaphas, high priest in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. Some of the ossuaries found in the tomb were inscribed with the name “Caiaphas,” the most magnificently decorated of them was inscribed with the name “Joseph bar Caiaphas.”
The ossuaries Zvi Greenhut excavated from a burial cave in the south of Jerusalem bear several inscriptions. These are actually graffiti in the cursive style of Jewish script typical of ossuary inscriptions, and were incised with a sharp implement, probably by the relatives of those who were being buried. The language of the inscriptions is Aramaic which, together with Hebrew and Greek, was one of the three languages used by Jews in the Second Temple period.