On November 24, 1947, with the British Mandate approaching expiration, the nascent Jewish nation was caught up in a bloody civil war with Palestinian nationalists. Jerusalem was divided by barbed wire, booby traps, and makeshift walls as British troops strained to quell the violence. Professor Eleazar Lipa Sukenik, from Hebrew University, received a call from an Armenian friend, acting as a middle man for Salahi. He promised to reveal an antiquity of interest to Sukenik. They met at the gateway to Military Zone B, separated by a barbed-wire fence. The Armenian held up a sample fragment of leather. Though Sukenik heard tales of inscriptional materials floating around the black market, it was only once the Jewish scholar laid eyes on the ancient lettering that he comprehended the importance of the desert find. Even through barbed wire, Sukenik recognized the writing style as similar to first-century ossuaries (bone coffins) in Jerusalem.
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