The 1980 Discovery of the East Talpiot “Jesus Tomb”: What We Knew and Did Not Know in 2007

TaborBlog | 2/18/2019 | Staff
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The east Talpiot tomb, exposed to view by demolition by the the Solel Boneh construction crew, was reported by engineer A. Shochat to the Israel Department of Antiquities on March 27, 1980. That was a Thursday. Neighbors, including local children, visited the tomb that afternoon and also called the Department of Antiquities to report its discovery.

Eliot Braun, representing the IDA, made an initial inspection and reported to Amos Kloner, who visited the site, and wrote up a preliminary hand written memo to Department of Antiquities director Abi Eitan dated Friday, March 28, 1980. He requested a rescue excavation permit with Yosef Gath as director of excavations. Kloner included in his memo a preliminary sketch of the tomb with its outer courtyard, its entrance with the interesting facade, and the inner chamber with six kokhim, and two archosolia, or primary burial shelves, on the north and west walls. With the Sabbath approaching the tomb was left open until Sunday morning. The permit for a rescue excavation was officially issued on Monday, March 31st, by Eitan, and registered as license # 938. Kloner recalls that the ossuaries were removed from the tomb on Friday morning, before the Sabbath, but neighbors and others involved, including Shimon Gibson, recalled seeing the ossuaries outside the tomb, ready for transport to the Rockefeller Museum, on Sunday morning. Given the substantial amount of soil covering the ossuaries it seems likely they were dug out on Friday but not actually removed and transported until Sunday.

Gath - Shimon - Gibson - Kloner - Surveyor

Gath, along with Shimon Gibson, who was invited by Kloner to serve as the surveyor, showed up Sunday morning to begin their work with the assistance of 3-4 workers. In his director’s report, filed on April 15, 1980, Gath notes April 11th as the official “end” of the excavation and records that work proceeded...
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