Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tomb Tantrums and Other Musings

I've been traveling since the beginning of the year and am back in Bozeman where the snow is deep and the skiing season in full swing.

I attended a lively and most intriguing Princeton University sponsored symposium in Jerusalem mid January. A select group of scholars, archaeologists and scientists came together to discuss ancient burial practices in the Second Temple Judaism with a view to evaluating the Talpiot tomb in context. Serious scholarly presentation and discussion ensued. Since the Talpiot tomb is also identified by some as "the Jesus Family Tomb" there were predictable angry outbursts, with ruffled feathers and flying fur. The most surprising announcement of the conference came at the final session from Ruth Gat, widow of the archaeologist who first excavated the Talpiot tomb. Ms. Gat's statement left the audience momentarily speechless, then the fires of dissent rekindled until the heat became nearly unbearable. Although no conclusions were drawn, the assembly agreed that more exploration needs to be done and a motion was made to request permission from the Israeli authorities to re-open the tomb. Tune in later.