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Establishing the provenance of the Nazareth Inscription: Using stable isotopes to resolve a historic controversy and trace ancient marble production

Abstract : Stable oxygen and carbon isotope analyses are commonly used to attempt to establish the provenance of ancient marble artifacts such as statues and architectural elements. In this study we apply the technique for a novel purpose: establishing the provenance of an important and mysterious inscribed document from the Roman Empire known as the Nazareth Inscription. The stable isotope enrichment in 13 C and substantial depletion in 18 O provide a unique signature allowing the confident and unexpected identification of the upper quarry of the Greek island of Kos as the source of the marble. This information resolves a near century of debate among ancient historians about the significance of the inscription, hitherto most often connected with Roman reactions to early Christian reports of Jesus' empty tomb. It is proposed that the edict was issued by Caesar Augustus in response to the desecration of the grave of a famous tyrant from Kos named Nikias, a theory which more logically fits with the provenance of the marble and the events of that time. Isotope analyses of dated and localized inscriptions will deliver vast new data for the high resolution economic history of marble production and distribution around the ancient Mediterranean.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02934970
Contributor : Raymond Michels Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 2:02:01 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 4, 2020 - 1:56:03 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 1:15:11 AM

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Kyle Harper, Michael Mccormick, Matthew Hamilton, Chantal Peiffert, Raymond Michels, et al.. Establishing the provenance of the Nazareth Inscription: Using stable isotopes to resolve a historic controversy and trace ancient marble production. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Elsevier, 2020, 30, pp.102228. ⟨10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102228⟩. ⟨hal-02934970⟩

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