Jesus's 'crucifixion nails' found
Two ancient nails discovered in a Jerusalem archaeological excavation 20 years ago may have been those used to crucify Jesus, according to a claim by Canadian filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici.
The nails, discovered in an excavation of a first century Jewish tomb in 1990, have divided historical opinion. Mr Jacobovici's view is set out in a documentary that will be aired on television in both the United States and Israel.
A number of ossuaries were found in the tomb, which belonged to the Caiaphas family, according to inscriptions on two of the bone boxes, Mr Jacobovici says.
Caiaphas was the name of the Jewish high priest at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, according to the New Testament.
"Do I know 100 per cent that these nails were used to crucify Jesus?" Mr Jacobovici said today. "No. I think we have a very compelling case to say: these are them."
The nails were not photographed at the time that they were found, and there is no record of what was done with them, according to the documentary.
At around the same time as the excavation, two ancient nails from the Second Temple period were delivered to a Tel Aviv University lab from Jerusalem and remained there since then.
These two nails are bent, which may be consistent with their being used for crucifixion, according to the documentary.
Mr Jacobovici says that the crucifixion nails were seen as a powerful talisman, that could protect the bearer in this life and the afterlife, and were therefore included in the tomb.
For Caiaphas, the crucifixion of Jesus was one of the most important events in his life, and this is another possible reason they were included in his tomb, Mr Jacobovici says.
The Israel Antiquities Authority said in response that there is no scientific proof for his theory.
Nails are commonly found in ancient burial caves from this period, and are believed to have been used for chiseling the name of the deceased on the sarcophagus, and there is no indication that they have any other significance, it said.
The tomb found in Jerusalem has not been proven to have belonged to the family of the high priest of that name, and may have belonged to another family with the same name, the IAA said.
"There is no doubt that the talented director Simcha Jacobovici created an interesting film, at the centre of which is a genuine archaeological artifact," the IAA said in a statement. "However, the interpretation presented in it has no basis in the find or in archaeological research."
The documentary will be aired as part of a series called Secrets of Christianity.