“Theodotus, freedman of Queen Agrippina—ossuary,” was written in ink on the upper right corner of this ossuary (see detail photograph of inscription). The same inscription without the word ossuary appears on the upper left corner as well. These inscriptions are of special interest for several reasons. They represent the first mention on an ossuary of Queen Agrippina. Also, the appearance of the Greek word for ossuary, soros
, is quite unusual.
But most important are the events of Theodotus’s life mentioned here. Theodotus was probably taken prisoner during some civil disturbance in Judea, enslaved, and transported to Rome where he served Agrippina. Later she freed him, thus conferring on him Roman citizenship. This inscription shows that Theodotus’s family considered his status of great significance.
Another ossuary in the Goliath tomb is inscribed “Mariah daughter of Nathanel.” Since Theodotus, the only non Jewish name inscribed on the ossuaries, is the Greek translation of Nathanel, we can assume that Theodotus is Nathanel, Mariah’s father. Taken slave after his daughter’s birth, Theodotus/Nathanel returned as a freedman to Jericho, where he died and was buried with his family.