Israel Antiquities Authority

One of the three occurrences of the name “Caiaphas” discovered in the burial cave. The narrow side of an elaborately carved ossuary is inscribed “Yehosef bar Qafa’”—Joseph, son of Caiaphas (see transcription with block Hebrew letters).

Though the New Testament calls the high priest who tried Jesus by the single name Caiaphas, the first-century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus refers to a “Joseph who was called Caiaphas of the high priesthood.” Caiaphas is therefore a family name or possibly a nickname. Author Ronny Reich, an archaeologist and epigrapher, suggests that the name Caiaphas may be related to two other names from the same period, Cantheras and Qatros. Reich adds that the names may derive from a word that means “basket” or “carrying” or “wooden pole” (used for roofing or for supporting vines); the ancestor of these families might have been a basketmaker or someone who moved goods by packanimals or who was involved in the upkeep of vineyards.