Israel has lost another of her veteran archaeologists.
Vassilios Tzaferis died at the age of 78.
You can see many nice photos of him at work in this Greek article.
Photo from Biblical Archaeology Society
Tzaferis was a monk before becoming an archaeologist.
Here's how he himself tells it:
Indeed, Tsaferis Tzaferis wrote extensively about monks and monasteries in the Byzantine period, and he served as director of excavations and surveys at the Israel Antiquities Authority from 1991 to 2001.Archaeology was not in my mind nor in my parents’ minds when, in 1950, at the age of 14, I departed the island of Samos, Greece. The destination for my migration was Jerusalem to study theology and become a monk in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. Six years later, when I was 20, my father’s desire was fulfilled when I undertook the vow of monasticism and was ordained deacon in a solemn ceremony at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.As a deacon and an obedient member of the “Holy Sepulchre Brotherhood” of the Patriarchate, I was sent to serve the Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth. Two years later, in 1958, I applied for higher theological studies at the University of Athens, but the then-Patriarch Benedictos had a much different idea: Instead, he urged me to complete my academic education in Biblical studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For my B.A. studies, I chose the history of ancient Israel and archaeology. For my M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, classical archaeology was my field of specialization.
But in my opinion his most moving discovery was this heel bone with a spike.
It now has a place of honor in the Israel Museum.
Please see my earlier post to understand how the foot was nailed sideways to the cross.
In a 1985 BAR article Tzaferis told this:
Rest in peace, Vassilios Tzaferis. Thanks for all you have done in the Holy Land.From ancient literary sources we know that tens of thousands of people were crucified in the Roman Empire. In Palestine alone, the figure ran into the thousands. Yet until 1968 not a single victim of this horrifying method of execution had been uncovered archaeologically.In that year I excavated the only victim of crucifixion ever discovered. He was a Jew, of a good family, who may have been convicted of a political crime. He lived in Jerusalem shortly after the turn of the era and sometime before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.