The Talpiot Tomb is a rock-cut tomb discovered in 1980 in the East Talpiot area of Jerusalem, just a few miles south of the Old City in Jerusalem. Included in the tomb was an inscribed epigraph interpreted as “Jesus, son of Joseph”, the tomb contained the remains of several humans. The discovery went largely unreported, not being acknowledged by the mainstream media in the United Kingdom until 1996 when the BBC aired a documentary about the tomb. Israeli Amos Kloner was the first recognized archaeologist to examine the site and he concluded that claims that it was the tomb of Jesus did not stack up. He wasn’t alone in his skepticism.
The site gained attention globally with the release of this controversial 2007 documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus, directed by Simcha Jacobovici and with Academy Award winning director James Cameron serving as the executive producer. The film covers the initial discovery of the tomb by those involved in a construction project and asserts that it was the family tomb of Jesus, it talks about there once being ten ossuaries in the tomb but claims that one was stolen by artifact dealers. The film was released in conjunction with a book about the subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, which was co-authored by Jacobovici.
The film (and the book) proved highly controversial because it claimed to be never reported before information but it was in fact almost entirely based upon an excavation report written by Amos Kloner and filed with the Israel Antiquities Authority in 1996, but the film made additional claims with Kloner distanced himself from – particularly the claim that it was the tomb of Jesus. Kloner himself, who is a professor of archaeology, had stated that it was not. There was also controversy over claims made in the film that a tenth ossuary was stolen, an assertion which appeared to be unfounded and based upon evidence which had already been comprehensively dismissed.
The archaeologist William Dever stated his belief that Jacobovici and Cameron had drawn their conclusions at the beginning, rather than at the end, and had therefore made a film which simply fit their narrative rather than one which took a subjective look at scholarly articles and all available evidence. The writer and broadcaster Ted Koppel had been in contact with three people who were quoted in the documentary but have subsequently claimed they were seriously misquoted, two of those people were willing to put their denials in writing.