Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology

Alexandros Simon, “Alexander (son) of Simon,” reads the inscription crudely scratched into the front of a plain stone ossuary, or bone box, from the Kidron Valley in eastern Jerusalem (the first line, written in green ink, has badly faded). In 1941, Israeli archaeologists Eleazer Sukenik and Nahman Avigad found the ossuary with ten others in a first-century C.E. tomb. They published the find in a scholarly journal, but the ossuary group sat unnoticed in a storeroom for the next 60 years.

However, as author Tom Powers observes, the selection of Greek and Hebrew names used on the ossuaries suggests a family connection with Cyrene, in North Africa. Could the Simon mentioned on this ossuarybe the Biblical Simon of Cyrene, who carried Jesus’ cross on the road to Calvary?