Stone-mason’s Marks (not Freemason’s Marks)

Written by Michael Moore

February 26, 2017

Stone-mason’s Marks (not Freemason’s Marks)

Yesterday we took a look at the “chevron” of Dominus Flevit. As several responded, it is simply a “direction mark,” which normally appear in pairs, one on the lid and one the side (or rim) of the ossuary* (Bagatti, Gli Scavi del “Dominus Flevit” p. 63ff.; Rahmani, A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries, p. 19). These are inscribed on ossuaries when the direction that the lid should be placed is not so obvious. One mark is intended to sit immediately above the other once the lid is placed upon the box at the end of the one-year anniversary ceremony. During that ceremony, when the bones are collected and placed in an ossuary, it is very important to know which direction the lid should go to be securely in place. (If not, the heavy stone lid might fall into the box and break some bones!) After all of the effort, the lid actually fit better going the other way. In the case of this ossuary, an additional cruder mark was added on the other side of the box for the ceremony (see Bagatti, Gli Scavi del “Dominus Flevit” p. 55, No. 66; p. 66; fig. 17, 17-18; Photos 67 and 74; such errors have been enumerated by Rahmani, CJO p. 19)


The symbols that are used can be two identical scratches, two X’s, two letters or two stonemason’s marks.

From Rahmani, CJO, p.19



Other ossuaries from Dominus Flevit with direction marks; Bagatti, fig. 16.

*I will be delighted to take any one of the five who responded correctly out for a cup of coffee and a tour of the Shrine of the Book any time.

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