Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

A rippled ossuary scratched with a name. The name reads from the bottom up, an indication that it was inscribed after the ossuary had been placed inside niches in the chamber’s wall. Whoever wrote it had to reach into the space between ossuary and wall; because his reach was limited and because Hebrew is written from right to left, the inscriber wrote from bottom to top. A writer of English under similar circumstances would begin the inscription at the top of the ossuary and write downward.

This ossuary bears the name “Miryam berat Shimon,” Miriam the daughter of Simon. Excavators recovered a coin inside the skull of a woman interred in the “Miryam” ossuary.