9a Walters

Since the nineteenth century, scholars of ancient Judaism have interpreted Jewish ossuaries in terms of the resurrection/redemption trope. Most prominently, they have associated ossuary burial with the Pharisaic and early Christian belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Briefly, the practice of ossuary burial, as it developed in Jerusalem and its environs in Herodian Jerusalem involved the exhumation of individual skeletons from their resting places within family tombs and the reinternment of these bodies in small chests—usually limestone, but sometimes pottery or wood, known to us as ossuaries and to the ancient rabbis as geluskama’ot (singular: geluskama).

What we now know, and some nineteenth-century scholars could only intuit, is that this practice developed very quickly and without warning in Judaean society. Previous to this period the exhumation of bones and their placement in charnel piles was the norm.