Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Was Ossuary 2 in Talpiot Tomb B moved?

I am so busy at the moment with reading dissertations, theses, proofs and what-not that staring at photographs of the Talpiot Tomb B finds can only be a treat that I occasionally indulge in in my spare time.  But there are several issues that still bother me about the photographs that have been published so far (see previously Questioning the Identity of Ossuary 4 in Talpiot Tomb B, Correction in Identifying one of the Talpiot Tomb B Ossuaries and links there) and I just want to ask a question in this post about one of them.  Was Ossuary 2 moved?

Here is a photograph of ossuary 2 in kokh 2 of Talpiot Tomb B (see Complete Findings from the Talpiot Tomb to see it in context):

Ossuary 2, kokh 2, extracted from The Jesus Discovery Website
What has been bothering me is how close it is to the wall on the left of kokh 2.  To draw attention to it, I've added a blue arrow here.  The gap is so narrow that there is hardly space in this picture to depict it:
Ossuary 2, kokh 2, with blue arrow showing narrow gap
But in the pictures of Ossuary 3 (the one with the "Mara" inscription), in the same kokh, Ossuary 2 appears to be further away from the wall.  In this picture, also from the Complete Findings from the Talpiot Tomb, it looks to me like there is a much larger gap:

Ossuary 3 (back), ossuary 2 (front right), kokh 2, showing large gap
In this picture, we are looking at Ossuary 3 at the back. Ossuary 2 is on the front right.  Now I understand that one has to allow for differences in perspectives caused by different camera angles, but I am wondering if those kind of differences are sufficient to cause the major differences between the first picture of Ossuary 2 above, and the second one here.  

As always, I would stress that I am only asking the question.   It is quite possible that further pictures from different angles would explain the apparent differences in placement of the ossuary.


Unknown said...

if the bottom photo is one of simcha and tabor's photos (and not one of kloner's), then it certainly appears to have been moved.

the question then becomes how did they move it? did they use the inflatable bladder (or the hook attached to the snake cam) that they promised *not* to use on p. 61 of their book?

i'll likewise examine other anomalies on possible movement between ossuaries 5 and 6 soon.

the greater question becomes thus:

at what point do the numerous problems with the images that have been released become so overwhelming that the credibility of *all* of the images become suspect?

likewise, since film making is all about camera angles, tricking the eye, framing, the dramatic reveal, etc., and cannot be trusted as 'scientific evidence' in any scenario (not just simcha, but film making in general), how can the documentary help their case?

dr. tabor has tried his best to release images in a scholarly fashion. but if the initial exploration was overseen by a film maker for the purposes of making a tv film and not an archaeologist from the outset (seriously, if the snake camera can take digital measurements from a distance, how come something as basic as a single simple measurement of the height, width, and length of the ossuaries has been published?), and if they placed multiple cameras in the tomb (how else does one get a camera shot of a camera coming into a tomb?), then can the credibility of the data be salvaged?

and remember, they *did* make a point on page 61 to state, "even though our license allowed us much more, including physical entry into the tomb if need be," giving them an out if it turns out they did enter the tomb and move things around...

Ian said...

I suspect it is consistent. Looking at the three photos of Kokh 2. (2-4) on the summary image.

2. When you light a photo from the same angle as the camera, the shadows tend to confuse our depth perception, since we expect shadows and occluders to be coincident only when the occluder is near the surface, but this isn't the case if the light is coincidental with the camera axis. Which is why you bounce light at a photo rather than using a flash (take a photo with a point-and-click with flash, of someone 10' from a wall, the image will appear as if they're right in front of the wall).

4. I am comfortable that is is taken with the ossuary in the same place as image 2, since the debris on the floor seems to be the same and in the same place. There is a question about the lower part of the kokh entry on the left, but it is not severe enough to be impossible for it to be accounted for by the change in angle. If the ossuary had been moved by, e.g. a bladder, it would have caused *much* more serious disruption of the ground debris, I'd say. On this image you can see that the kokh widens inside, and there is a significant gap on the left hand side of ossuary 2 once you get in beyond the entry. Also you can see that, to the left of Kokh 2's opening the wall of the tomb protrudes, this protrusion is consistent with what appears to be the edge of the kokh entry in image 2 (e.g. the dark diagonal band in image 2 that appears to end at the edge of the Kokh, can be seen ending at the edge of protrusion in image 4).

3. So, I think it entirely consistent that this image was taken by holding the arm over ossuary 2, at the left hand side of the Kokh, in the gap visible in image 4. The arm didn't need to come in from the side of ossuary 2, if you look at the arm holding the camera, it is articulated at the camera end, so the camera could have come over ossuary two, then be lowered into the gap to take this photo as side-on to ossuary 3 as possible.

From that, I don't see any reason to suspect the ossuaries were lying in a different position for image 3 as for images 2 and 4.

Unknown said...


i'm afraid i have to disagree with you on this one (with all due respect to you, as you raise some excellent points about camera angles and lighting.

however, when one looks at this image released by the 'thejesusdiscovery.org' team, you quickly see that there simply is not enough room to get a nearly straight-on shot of the 'mara' inscription, when the drawing indicates that the space is to the right of ossuary 2 w/in the kokh, not the left.

it appears that ossuary 2 was moved to the right to take the image of ossuary 3 needed to get a nearly straight-on picture.

i'm also working on a story offers evidence that ossuary 5 was also moved (very slightly) to improve images of ossuary 6.

again, it is possible that either the camera was used to move the ossuaries, or, that someone working on behalf of the team entered the tomb and maneuvered the ossuaries for better images.

and IF someone has entered the tomb, then all bets are off.

Ian said...

Those were the images I referred to by number in my comment.

The drawing doesn't claim to be to scale or anything more than illustrative (as can be seen at a glance, there are no details of any of the rock structures visible in any of the shots in the diagram) - I took the diagram as being intended to show the coarse layout of the tomb, not the precise geometries of the excavated rock.

Do you think the ossuary had been moved between images 2 and 4? If you think they are in the same place, then let's ignore image 2, because its lighting is totally misdirecting (as can be seen from a comparison with image 4). If you think the move occurred between 2 and 4, can you say on what evidence and by what conceivable mechanism that could leave the fine structure of the rubble around its base intact?

So the question reduces to this: can the gap clearly to be seen in image 4 to the left of the ossuary be big enough to admit the camera head to take image 3? I have yet to see any reason why not. Appealing to the hand-drawn sketch of the tomb layout is rather tendentious.

We could do the analysis more thoroughly, doing a proper lens correction on 2 image 4 to determine the amount of overlap between the ossuaries to determine if 3 is consistent. My guess is that it would show that it is, and I'm loathe to spent a couple of hours doing it, when there's no evidence except the dodgy lighting on image 2 to suggest foul play.

I have no horse in this race. I don't find the claims of the fish, etc, convincing, but that's no reason for any of us to entertain allegations merely because they support our pre-existing antagonism to the debacle.

mwp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Or? If a very small lens camera, on the end of a probe, was inserted into a crack? That crack might seem huge.

James D. Tabor said...

I love your diligence Mark and your sharp eye. You need to be on our "team." Nothing was moved, not even a centimeter, and of course we did not :"enter" the tomb through the eight inch holes. Ian is precisely correct. It is all a matter of the angle. If you are right in front of that kokh looking straight in you can see Mara perfectly to the left. The map shows things just as they are today.

david meadows said...

This photo might work that way, but how was fig. 18 in your b&i article taken -- which shows the whole width of the ossuary -- without movement?

James D. Tabor said...

You guys are proving you know very little of the "perspective" thing you have posted you videos on all over the internet...no offense here, but these examples are prime #A1. ALL of these photos are untouched, nothing was moved, they were all taken from various angles with the robotic arm...I am not expert here but I was there, or Rami, and I have no secret, unfortunately for shrinking myself into an 8-inch hole or I would be "selling" something else--tell Joe, no need anymore for books and "archaeology." And that kitchen floor, let's see, did you see our maps or diagrams, or read my book, 30 ft above the tomb, yea that would work...just tear out a hole big enough for a little guy like me to knock through three apartment floors below plus the basement and I am sure no one would notice--hey they were sleeping maybe...

James D. Tabor said...

Okay, it is 2:28AM in Israel and I have jet lag, sorry, no dedication to Mark's blog implied, but one more point. When you see the film on Thursday I think you will see ALL of these angles and everything will be clear...In other words, these are all stills of the running camera as it moved about...