10 Days of Archaeology: Day Three – Caiaphas Ossuary

Epic Archaeology‘s superb infographics highlight various archaeological artifacts that relate or even support the biblical narrative. Continuing the “Ten Days of Archaeology” posts featuring some of the infographics Epic Archaeology has produced. here is day three with the Caiaphas Ossuary. Be sure to check out the other infographics at Epic Archaeology.

Caiaphas Ossuary

An ossuary is a chest or box made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. Essentially a coffin. Jews in the late 1st century BC and early 1st century AD used ossuaries to keep the bones of the deceased preserved because of the belief that God would use the bones in the resurrection of the dead. Most ossuaries are plane and undecorated, but there is a particular ossuary discovered in Jerusalem in 1990 of particular interest, the Caiaphas Ossuary.

Caiaphas is the high priest mentioned in Mark 14:53-65.  In verses 61-64 we read about this famous exchange between Jesus and the High Priest Caiaphas:

61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

Was Caiaphas a real person? Apparently so.  Here is a quick video from Frank Turek of Crossexamined.com about this remarkable archaeological discovery of the bone box (i.e., ossuary or coffin) of Caiaphas:

Here is another video from Drive Through History about Caiaphas and the discovery of the ossuary:

The historical Caiaphas can be crosschecked in history by the Jewish historian Jospehus, as mentioned in the video above.

Here is a bulleted point reference to the history, discovery, and significance of Caiaphas and the ossuary:

  • Caiaphas was the Jewish high priest of the Sanhedrin.
  • The primary sources of Caiaphas are the New Testament (Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6) and Josephus.
  • Caiaphas ossuary discovered in south Jerusalem in November of 1990.
  • An inscription on the side of the ossuary contains the phrase “Joseph, son of Caiaphas.
  • Inside that ossuary where the bones of a man.
  •  Most ossuaries are plain and contain no inscriptions; the Caiaphas ossuary is ornately decorated as would be the case for a high priest such as Caiaphas.

For further information on the Caiaphas Ossuary see:

Ossuary of the High Priest Caiaphas” | Center for Online Jewish Studies

House of Caiaphas Ossuary is Authentic” by Gil Ronen | Israel National News 6/29/2011

You can check out other archaeological discoveries related to the bible here:

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Edom

A Guide to Internet Archaeology

Ziklag

Clay Seal of King Josiah’s Aide Found

Ring of Pontius Pilate Discovered

Caiaphas Ossuary

The Prophet Isaiah

23 New Testament Figures Confirmed

History Has Gone to the Toilets-The Ancient Latrine of Lachish

Virtual Unwrapping of Levitical Scroll

City of Geza

Philistine Cemetery

Ancient Shopping List Provides Evidence of When Bible Was Written

Hezekiah Bulla

12th Dead Sea Scroll Cave Found!

Bethsaida

53 People in the Old Testament Confirmed Archaeologically

New ESV Archaeology Study Bible

By J. Steve Lee

J. Steve Lee has taught Apologetics for over a decade at Prestonwood Christian Academy. He also has taught World Religions and Philosophy at Mountain View College in Dallas. With a degree in history and education from the UNT, Steve continued his formal studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary w/ an M.A. in philosophy of religion and has pursued doctoral studies at the UT-Dallas. He is finishing his dissertation at South African Theological Seminary. He has published several articles for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H Publishing, 2010) as well as articles & reviews in various periodicals including Philosophia Christi, Hope’s Reason: A Journal of Apologetics, and the Areopagus Journal.