Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Scales of a fish on the Talpiot ossuary?


Although my comments on the Talpiot ossuary B have focused so far on other issues, there is one thing I've been curious about in relation to the "fish" interpretation.  If this is a fish, why do the designs in its body change from rectangles, to shaded and non-shaded triangles, to "Y" shapes?  Is it more likely that these are several different attempts to depict fish scales, one row at a time, or is it more likely that they are simple ornamentation, as on a vessel of some sort?

My curiosity is aroused by the fact that the design in the middle segment* -- shaded and unshaded triangles -- is apparently the same design as the ossuary's decorative border, also shaded and unshaded triangles.  I have drawn attention to these elements in the picture above, which I have also rotated by ninety degrees so that it fits on the page better.  I think it is more likely that we are seeing a decorative design on the border that correlates with the same decorative design on the object, rather than that the decorative design on the border contrasts with the scales of a "fish".

* I am speaking here of the middle section in the raw footage, which features three main segments, rather than the doctored image, which features four.

4 comments:

robert r. cargill said...

agreed. if the image is a representation of a vessel, it actually has three sections on the neck. the middle segment is quite similar to the border in its decoration.

i believe the border was digitally deleted and removed from context to create the illusion that the proposed 'fish' was swimming freely, or at least an independent image. it is the same reason the image is depicted rotated to its side in all of the press photos and even on the http://thejesusdiscovery.org/ website, where it looks like a free-swimming fish.

however, you may be correct that an additional reason to remove the border is because the border decoration, which is obviously not fish scales, closely matches the middle segment's decoration, which would detract from an interpretation as a fish.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Bob. Agreed. Yes, once one sees the doctored image first, with that orientation, it certainly creates a specific initial impression. The removal of the border there certainly enhances the notion of a free-swimming fish.

This triangular design is also on the supposed half-fish on the end of the ossuary in Kloner's 1981 photograph, but once again I suspect that that is some kind of vase + vase decoration.

Geoff Hudson said...

It takes a UK archaeologist away from the hooha in the US to tell everyone else its a unguetenarium.

Geoff Hudson said...

Just tricking you; it's a unguentarium.