Courtesy André Lemaire

A relatively plain, 20-inch-long limestone ossuary, a box for bones widely used in first-century C.E. Jerusalem, bears a significant Aramaic inscription that reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” (See detail and drawing of inscription.)

Author André Lemaire thought the inscription clearly dated between 20 B.C.E. and 70 C.E.—but, to make certain, he had it analyzed by geologists. As shown in the sidebar “Epigraphy—and the Lab—Say It’s Genuine,” they concluded that the box has no modern elements, was worked by no modern tools—and does seem to be authentic. Could this box have held the bones of the James who was the brother of Jesus of Nazareth? Lemaire concludes that it likely did, making this ossuary the earliest archaeological attestation of Jesus yet found.