Take a look again at the photograph of the inside of Ossuary 4, below. I have highlighted a crack in the top right hand corner:
|Inside Ossuary 4, kokh 2, 2011, Preliminary Report, p. 32, fig. 7, annotated to draw attention to the crack at the back of the ossuary.|
Now, according to James Tabor, this ossuary is the same one that was photographed in 1981. He explains (Preliminary Report, 14) that:
This ossuary is in its original position. It is ornamented but due to its distance in the niche and its closeness to the wall we were not able to examine its façade closely. Its far end has a name inscribed in Greek but unfortunately even our snake camera probe could not reach far enough inside the niche to shoot back at that end and get a clear wide shot of the letters. All we have is the 1981 enhanced photo in which the Greek letters are faintly visible but remain undeciphered.It is featured on the right in the picture below:
|"1981 Photo of Ossuary 4 (right) with faint inscription in Greek", Jesus Discovery Website|
In this picture, the façade is facing to the left, towards ossuary 5. The panel with the faint inscription is facing towards us. Although the ossuary is apparently in its original location in kokh 2, it is clearly not "in its original position". If this is the same ossuary, it is now switched around, with the façade facing the wall and the inscription panel on the far side. Now, if this is the case, then we have an anomaly. Look again at the photograph above that is taken inside ossuary 4. There is a crack at the back, on the top right. The same area in the 1981 photograph ought to be the top left as we look at it now, but there is no crack:
|1981 Photo of Ossuary 4 (right), top left highlighted to the lack of a crack|
There are two possibilities here. It could be that the crack was caused in 1981, but this seems unlikely given that only "scratches" are mentioned (Preliminary Report, 5) and not major damage. It seems more likely that we are not looking at the same ossuary.
There is a related question. Ossuary 4 is described in the Complete Findings as "Plain (Not fully explored)", which conflicts with the idea that it is "ornamented" ("Preliminary Report", 14). If the 1981 photo above is of Ossuary 4, there is no question that it is ornamented. Here is the detail of the façade as we see it above:
|Close-up of ornamented facade on ossuary 4 (1981)|
In summary, there are conflicts between ossuary 4 as it is apparently represented in the picture from 1981 and as it is represented in the recent investigations. In one it has a big crack and in the other it does not. And while it is described as "plain" in one place, it is described as "ornamented" in another.
I am grateful also to David Meadows for useful discussion of the issues here -- see his Pinterest page on this topic.