Talpiot Tomb B: On Connected and Unconnected Lines

Categories: Biblical Studies, Early Christianity

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The blogosphere has yet again been in quite good form with lots of folks demonstrating the numerous problems with the latest claims about the presence of the name “Yonah” (Jonah) etched in the supposed stick-man at the bottom of the vessel fish at the center of the discussion of the Talpiot Tomb B ossuaries. Bob Cargill and Mark Goodacre have persuasively shown that the lines of the supposed “nun” do not in fact connect, a problem for regarding these etchings as one letter, and Cargill has compiled a list of problems with each of the first three letters. To this, I will add one other problem I have yet to see mentioned: fourth letter, the supposed ה (hey) at the end of the supposed name features two lines that should not be connected in the way they are if this were actually that letter. If this were actually an Aramaic/Hebrew block letter, it looks as though it would be better taken as a ח (het), as both vertical strokes of that letter connect with the top but without any serif or line sticking above the horizontal stroke on the right side, as we see here. (Actually, it may look like the Greek letter π (pi), but that can’t fit with a Jonah interpretation, so nobody has suggested that yet.)

We have examples of the letter ה in inscriptions from Talpiot Tomb A, which would be our best analogues for an alleged inscription 200 feet away in roughly the same time period. I’ll let you be the judge on whether the morphology looks similar enough to say that this is really a ה and not something else (HT for pictures):

(Mattiyah; Rahmani 703)

From another ossuary, CJ02:


Yoseh (Rahmani 705)

Maria (Rahmani 706)

Only in the very last one do we have connection between the left vertical and the horizontal stroke, and in that one, we have a clearly defined right vertical stroke that passes the above the plane of the horizontal stroke producing a small “serif” and preserving the difference between the right and left vertical strokes. Keeping all these examples in mind, let’s take another look at the supposed ה in the supposed “Yonah”:

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