Talpiot Ossuary Followup

I’m sorry … I just can’t let this one pass. Over at The Bible and Culture, Ben Witherington has an interview with Dr James Charlesworth about matters Talpiotical (Dr. Jim Charlesworth on Talpiot Tomb B) and the question of fish v. amphora comes up. I find it very difficult to swallow this one and it will bug me if I don’t point it out. Inter alia Dr Charlesworth says:

First, it is imperative to realize the image is something inscribed by an unskilled hand on limestone. The inscriber did not use a ruler or compass; he seems to have used only a chisel and hammer. He thus produced a poorly incised ornamentation by freehand. We should expect that type of work in and around Jerusalem in pre-70 strata, since Jews were prohibited, and thus had no skills, to depict any likeness in God’s creation (recall the Commandment). There was also probably no workshop or skilled artisans to help him; and perhaps the image was made without sufficient time.

… then, when dismissing the possibility of an amphora:

An Amphora. The image does appear in some ways like an amphora. It is rounded and has a top. The image has something on each side. Could these be handles? If so, they are not like any known handles on an amphora, whether drawn or part of an amphora itself. Is it possible that retinal retention has elicited these attempts to discern the meaning? If one looks at an amphora, one can easily see this image as an amphora. But, is that what the engraver intended? The oval-shaped bottom of the drawing seems too rounded for the base of an amphora. The handles, moreover, are oddly shaped and unlike any on an amphora. Many artisans depicted amphora correctly on ossuaries, why is this image so unlike others?

… I’m sorry, but suggesting an artist is unskilled on one hand and then expecting/arguing for a level of skill on another is one of those cake-and-eat-it-too things.