This reprint of Sukenik’s article “The Earliest Records of Christianity” is presented as the first volume of Gorgias Press’s Analecta Gorgiana series with a new introduction by George Anton Kiraz. This fully illustrated archaeological abstract is sure to be of interest to readers concerned with the archaeology of the area around Jerusalem, as well as those interested in early artifacts of Christianity.
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This reprint of Sukenik’s special abstract first appeared in the American Journal of Archaeology and describes the discovery of ossuaries and other artifacts near Jerusalem. It is presented here with a new introduction by George Anton Kiraz, son of the “A. David Kiraz” at whose home the artifacts were discovered. This archaeological abstract contains illustrations and black and white photographs of the discovery site. The decorative reliefs on the ossuaries range from the modest to the ornate: some were marked with crosses, making them arguably the earliest physical relics of Christianity that have been discovered. Several also bear inscriptions, anticipating the much celebrated “James Ossuary.” Dating the tomb on historic, artifactual, and epigraphic evidence, Sukenik concludes that it falls into the first century of the Common Era.
Eleazar Lipa Sukenik (1889-1953) was an Israeli archaeologist who was instrumental in establishing the Department of Archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he taught. He served with the British army in World War I. He is best known for his role in the acquisition of the Dead Sea Scrolls for the newly established nation of Israel, and his excavations in Jerusalem. He was the father of archaeologist Yigael Yadin.