David Harris

Limestone Ossuary

For three centuries, before and after the destruction of the the Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E., Jews gathered the desiccated bones of their deceased and placed them in ossuaries. Bone boxes were often elaborately decorated. This one displays rosettes on its short side, an egg-and-dart pattern in the top register and squares resembling a crenellated city wall immediately below. On the long face, engaged columns stand against a design of ashlar blocks. A gabled lid covers the ossuary, which was probably made in Hebron or Jerusalem in the first century C.E.