The Connection of the James Ossuary to the Talpiot (Jesus Family Tomb) Ossuaries

Each of the examined caves and each cave’s associated ossuaries in the Jerusalem area, exhibit in their patinas a unique elemental fingerprint. The patina of the unprovenanced James Ossuary exhibits geochemical fingerprints consistent with the patinas of the Talpiot ossuaries. This strengthens the contention that James Ossuary belong to the assemblage of the Talpiot ossuaries.

By A. Rosenfeld
Geological Survey of Israel
Jerusalem, Israel

C. Pellegrino
Time Gate, Inc.
Long Beach, N.Y.

H. R. Feldman
The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School
Touro College, Division of Paleontology, N.Y.
American Museum of Natural History

W.E.K. Krumbein
Department of Geomicrobiology, ICBM
Carl von Ossietzky Universitaet, Oldenburg
May 2011

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Comments (7)

Thanks for this report, all of you. Along with the report that the much aligned Oded Golan has posted on this site (, reviewing the forgery trial evidence, it seems there is a bit of catching up we all need to do before we draw conclusions about the authenticity of the inscription and its possible provenance. Strangely, no review or critique of the facts Mr. Golan purports to present has been offered. If so I am sure the editors would be more than pleased to post it. I know one colleague who attended every public session of the trial and wrote me regular reports. He assures me that Oded's recounting of the facts is accurate.

#1 - James Tabor - 05/27/2011 - 18:51

What would a judge in a criminal case say, facing such a report? "Guilty", probably.
Thanks for the report. It answers one question, but opens up others. One of these is: can this report explain a possible missing ossuary?

#2 - Eldad keynan - 05/30/2011 - 07:31

Could someone tell me where I can get access to the actual scientific Reports, that show the relative percentages of the elments in the Talpiot tomb and the James ossuary, and other tombs?

#3 - Geoff Hudson - 07/03/2011 - 11:22

An excellent article. Thanks to the authors for posting it.

In the "Final Days of Jesus," Shimon Gibson outlined the chronology and circumstances of the discovery and excavation of the Talpiot tomb. Significantly, in his sections of the tomb, he shows all the ten known ossuaries buried beneath the soil, although he remarks that it wasn't clear to him that all were fully buried. He states that Gath removed the ossuaries from the tomb on Friday, 28 March 1980, two days before Gibson arrived on Sunday, 30 March. No excavation work was conducted on Shabbat, although some children managed to get into the tomb to collect some bone fragments.

Gibson received information on the location of the ossuaries from Gath, and presumably was able to map the impressions they left, but unfortunately no one cross-referenced the location codes on the plan with the accession numbers given the ossuaries by the Rockerfeller Museum. As a result the archaeological context was lost.

Gibson also described a roofed vestibule a the entrance to the tomb that had been exposed by blasting, and in which Gath had reported finding ossuary fragments. This would have been the logical location for the James ossuary, which may have fallen into the hands of looters, first in antiquity, and then again just before Gath arrived.

If those vestibule fragments were kept by the Rockerfeller, it would be very useful to test and compare them with the James ossuary.

#4 - Roger Cooper - 07/28/2011 - 13:35

Cooper's suggestion raises a few questions. 1."the James ossuary, which may have fallen into the hands of looters, first in antiquity, and then again just before Gath arrived." Does it mean that the ancient looters returned the James ossuary back to the Talpiot Tomb? It seems the only way to explain the modern looters success, "just before Gath arrived."
2. Gibson "shows all the ten known ossuaries buried beneath the soil, although he remarks that it wasn't clear to him that all were fully buried." Very interesting indeed. Gibson's map shows very clear that the soli line was higher than the ossuaries tops (NEA 69:3-4 [2006], P. 121; Atiqot 29, 1996).
3. The vestibule fragments were known to the late Gath, and Gibson mentions them as well. Yet Kloner doesn't mention them in Atiqot 29 (1996). It's another interesting fact that should be explained.
All in all - Cooper's comment does a great service anyway: it seems to accept the James ossuary original location: the Talpiot Tomb. Since suggesting two ocurences of looting - ancient and modern - seems a bit problematic, we might still be facing an interesting question: if Gath extracted all the 10 ossuaries from the tomb, as Gibson tells us, in a few hours, then it could be "looted" only on the road to the Rockefeller museum or after the "shipment" arrived at the museum. Since Gibson started his involvement only on the next Sunday, we must conclude that he can not answer this question, since his presence started too late.

#5 - Eldad Keynan - 08/27/2011 - 08:35

The connection of the James ossuary to the Talpiot ossuaries could be more likely determined if Oded Golan would allow the James bone fragments, in his possession, to be tested and compared with the Talpiot bone fragments. At this point in time, Oded Golan must feel like he's got the whole world in his hands.

#6 - Theodora - 06/02/2012 - 11:15

I would be interested in knowing the variances of the "unique elemental fingerprint" between the Ossuaries within a cave and the Variances of the "unique elemental fingerprint" between caves? It is had to believe that all ossuaries within a cave would have exactly the same "unique elemental fingerprint". Also would the variances within a cave be statistically significantly different from the variances between caves?

#7 - Duane Patterson - 04/09/2015 - 20:57

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