Biblical Archaeology Review 37:3, May/June 2011

Strata: Milestones: Vendyl Jones (1930–2010)

Vendyl Jones, a Baptist minister turned amateur archaeologist who spent a career in Israel searching for the Ark of the Covenant, passed away in December. He was 80 years old.

Often rumored to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones, “Vendy” Jones spent more than four decades scouring the Judean desert for the Ark as well as the priceless treasures listed on the famous Copper Scroll, thought by many to record the locations of the hidden treasures of the Jerusalem Temple.

While Jones found neither the Ark nor any of the tons of gold and silver mentioned in the Copper Scroll, he did manage to find more than 600 pounds of a unique reddish powder in a Judean desert cave, a substance that he said might have been the qetoret (or incense) used during Temple rituals and observances. During another expedition, his volunteers helped archaeologists Joseph Patrich and Benny Arubas uncover a small first-century C.E. juglet containing an oily liquid that some, including Jones, speculated was the oil used to anoint the priests and kings of ancient Jerusalem.a

Despite his Baptist background, Jones eventually became a Noahide, a follower of the Jewish tradition that all non-Jews (i.e., all mankind), as descendants of Noah, are obligated to obey the seven laws given by God to Noah after the flood. The seven laws, most of which are similar to the Ten Commandments, are found in the Talmud.

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