Biblical Archaeology Review 29:4, July/August 2003

Treasures in the Storeroom

Family Tomb of Simon of Cyrene

By Tom Powers

The ossuary (bone box) inscribed, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” has become famous all over the world.a There is another group of now nearly forgotten bone boxes, however, that are also very likely connected to Jesus. They very probably belonged to the family of Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried the cross of Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). Though these ossuaries may not be as important as the “James, brother of Jesus” bone box, they do illuminate the world of Jesus—first-century C.E. Jerusalem—and, more strikingly, add one other figure from the New Testament to the list of Biblical characters attested by archaeology and history.b

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