JERUSALEM, Israel -- Two Israeli archaeologists confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old ossuary and its inscription believed to have belonged to the family of Caiaphas, the high priest during Jesus' time, American Friends of Tel Aviv University reported Tuesday.
Three years ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority confiscated the ancient limestone burial box from antiquities thieves.
TAU's Department of Archaeology Prof. Yuval Goren and Bar Ilan University Prof. Boaz Zissu worked together to authenticate both the ossuary and its inscription.
"Beyond any reasonable doubt, the inscription is authentic," said Prof. Goren, whose findings were published in the Israel Exploration Journal.
The ossuary's full inscription reads, "Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphus, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri."
Mazziah refers to a clan, which Prof. Goren said was the last mentioned order of the 24 orders of high priests who served during Second Temple times. The Romans destroyed the Second Jewish Temple, built by King herod, in 70 AD.
Beit Imri may refer to the village where the priest's family lived, thought to have been located on the slopes of Mount Hevron.
The professors believe the ossuary came from a burial site in the Valley of Elah - southwest of Jerusalem - where the battle of David and Goliath took place.
Researchers hope the find may lead to more discoveries about the family of Caiaphas, known for his role in the arrest and trial of Jesus, which led to His crucifixion.
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered many first century ossuaries in Jerusalem and Judea.
Occasionally, forgers have tried adding fraudulent decorations and even inscriptions to increase the artifact's value.
Two years ago, an ossuary thought to belong to James, the brother of Jesus, was found to be a fraud.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University