Hershel Shanks

A niche in time. Critical clues for solving the mystery of the origins of the 11 stones came from two stones that had no channels but did have niches and cornices, along with Greek letters inscribed on their top surface (see detail). The inscriptions on the stones resembled those on a bone disk (see photograph) found years ago in Jerusalem by Nahman Avigad, who thought it might be a theater ticket. Jewish and Christian sources indicate that a Roman theater indeed once stood in Jerusalem; the inscribed stones found in the Umayyad wall proved Avigad right.