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Israeli authorities: 2,000-year-old burial box is the real deal

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Ossuary belonged to daughter of High Priest Caiaphas, says statement
  • Thieves of an ancient Israeli tomb discovered the box
  • Israel Antiquities Authority Unit confirms its authenticity
  • Authority laments it can never know "the full story of the burial cave"

(CNN) -- A 2,000 year-old ossuary, discovered in Israel in 2008 and belonging to the daughter of the High Priest Caiaphas, is said to be authentic by the Israel Antiquities Authority Unit.

The unit for the prevention of antiquities robbery acquired the ossuary, or burial box for bones, in 2008 after thieves ransacked a Jewish tomb. The ensuing investigation determined that the ossuary came from a burial cave in the Valley of Elah, part of the larger Judean valley, said a statement from the Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University.

Since the ossuary was not found in its original archaeological location, the Antiquities Authority was upset that they could never know "the full story of the burial cave."

"The robbers' desire of monetary gain has erased entire pages of the country's cultural history," said the statement.

However, It did not prevent a team, including Dr. Boaz Zissu of Bar-Ilan University and professor Yuval Goren of Tel Aviv University from determining the ossuary's authenticity.

It was found with the engraving: "Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, Priests (of) Ma'aziah from Beth 'Imri." Miriam's ancestor, the High Priest Yehosef Bar Caiaphas, was most famous for his involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, said the statement.

An ossuary is a small stone chest in which Jewish people buried bones, most often found in Israeli tombs from roughly 2,100 to 1,800 years ago, said the statement.