NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–An ancient and much-publicized limestone bone box was described as “badly damaged” in transit from Israel to a museum in Canada, officials said Nov. 1.
The box, called an “ossuary” from approximately 63 A.D., has been heralded as the only New Testament-era mention of Jesus.
The ossuary was en route to Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum from a unidentified private collector in Jerusalem who had purchased the box a number of years ago but only recently had learned of its potential significance.
“The box was very badly damaged, but still intact. It has not broken,” Don Rahimi, director of the Toronto museum’s collections management, told the Associated Press.
Impacts or vibration in the transportation widened existing cracks in the box and created new ones, Rahimi told the AP. Adhesive can be injected into the cracks, he said, noting the artifact’s owner had not yet responded. The owner had arranged for reputable shipping and was responsible for its insurance, museum officials told the AP.
The existence of the box, roughly 20 inches long, 10 inches wide and 12 inches high, was announced Oct. 21 at a news conference in Washington, D.C.
It apparently once contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus. An inscription on the box reads, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”
An extensive article about the limestone box, called an “ossuary,” appears in the November-December issue of the Biblical Archaeology Review, published by the Washington-based Biblical Archaeology Society. The article is titled, “Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus.”
Box with earliest Jesus reference contains bone fragments in dirt