See Robert Cargill’s post and the posts and other stuff he links to. I think at this point he has the most complete discussion of this ossuary and its intriguing inscription. Perhaps I’ll have something of my own to say about it. Yesterday and today have been rather full days and I’m too lazy (and incompetent) to deal with the Aramaic inscription this evening. I will say that while everyone is worrying about the identity of Miriam and her family connections, I’m wondering about the words דבית עמרי, “from Beth ‘mri” or “of the House of Omri.” Was this a common genealogical or geographical designation at the time? I’m not question authenticity here. I’m just wondering what דבית עמרי might indicate?
Update: June 30, 2011:
The Jerusalem Post has an interesting video interview concerning the ossuary and its inscription with Boax Zissuz of Bar-Ilan. The accompanying article also addresses my concern about דבית עמרי.
The ending of the inscription “from Beth Imri” can be interpreted to mean that Beth Imri is the name of a priestly family – the sons of Immer as described in Ezra 2:36-37 and Nehemiah 7:39-42, whose descendants include members of the Ma’aziah course.
But this understanding seems to have its own problems: עמרי vs. אמר. Is there some orthography issue I don’t quite get?