Yeshua’ (?): what do the experts say about the name (Cross, Naveh, Pfann, Puech, Rahmani, Yardeni et al.)
1) The yodh is difficult to identify. Neither stroke (see black strokes in fig. 1) that has been suggested resembles the yodh of Yehosef (black, fig. 2).
2) What is taken to be a shin (blue) has an exceedingly long tail.
3) The top of the waw (green, fig. 1) seems to have a hooked head however this in no way resembles the single stroke used to form a waw later in the name Yehosef (green, fig. 2).
4) The diagonal stroke of the proposed ayin (red) is longer than usual. But the most unsual factors are: a) the letter incorporates an earlier vertical stroke (yellow) made by another tool. b) The ayin itself is written over and intersects with the vertical downstrokes of not just one but two preceding letters proposed by Rahmani, the shin (blue) and the waw (green). This is almost unheard of.
5) Various additional scratches may be remnants of an earlier inscription. (identifications subject to further scientific analysis)
fig. 1, Yeshua (?)
fig. 2, Yehosef
These unusual features along with the numerous other scratches and strokes made by at least one other tool in and around the inscription certainly justifies the need for the question mark “?”.