Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology

False start. On the back of the Simon ossuary, a flawed inscription attests that the engraver was an amateur. The first line reads “SimonAle,” clearly a mistake; the name “Simon” and the first three letters of “Alexander” have been run together and the names are in the wrong order. Realizing his error, the engraver started over on the second line, carving “Alexander” and then, on the third line, “(son) of Simon.” Significantly, the Gospel of Mark relates that Simon of Cyrene had a son named Alexander: “They compelled a passerby, who was coming in from the country, to carry [Jesus’] cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus” (Mark 15:21).

Supporting the identification of this ossuary as that of Simon of Cyrene’s son is a third inscription, carved neatly into the lid of the box. The first line spells “of Alexander” in Greek; the second line, in smaller Hebrew characters, reads “Alexander QRNYT.” The meaning of qrnyt is unclear, but it is possible the engraver made a slight error, and meant instead to write qrnyh—Hebrew for “Cyrenian.”