On Thursday, June 21, 2007 our UHL technical staff visited the IAA storage facilities at Beth Shemesh to examine and photograph four of the inscribed ossuaries from the Talpiot Tomb. On hand were:
Stephen J. Pfann, Ph.D, Epigrapher, Director of Imaging Project
Steven Cox, M.S., Forensic Scientist
Stephen Pfann, Jr., B.A., Digital Imaging
Azriel Gorski, Ph.D. Forensic Scientist
Ari Greenspan, D.M.D. Technical Cleaning Expert.
Oded Raviv, Ph.D., Conservator, Israel Antiquities Authority
The objectives of the visit were:
1) to examine, clean and digitally image the so-called Yeshua bar Yehosef inscription under an Olympus stereoptic microscope.
2) to produce close-up digital images of the four inscriptions with a Canon Digital Rebel with a macro lens.
The goal was to identify and distinguish the various types of tools that were used to inscribe the names on these ossuaries. Initial results of images which were shot of the Mariame kai Mara inscription confirmed the preliminary report.
Below is the first image produced from the trip. Other images will be made available over the next few days and weeks.
Two separate tools were utilized to engrave the two parts of the inscription. Both iron tools were equipped with a pointed, bifurcated tip. The width of the tip of the instrument utilized in the second part of the inscription appears to be slightly (10-15%) wider than that used in the first part of the inscription.
The scratch/signum: The scratch between the "kai" and the "Mara" was not produced by either of the tools; thus it appears to be accidental. NOTE BELOW THAT THE DOWNSTROKE OF THE LETTERS "I" AND "M" ARE DEEP AND WIDE WITH A LEDGE ON THE RIGHT. HOWEVER, THE SCRATCH THAT IS SITUATED BETWEEN THEM IS IRREGULAR IN WIDTH AND IS NOT AT ALL DEEP.