Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bronze Age Cemetery in Jerusalem

Back in 2006 we reported on the excavation of an ancient cemetery underneath the location of the Holyland Hotel’s model of Jerusalem. At the time we knew only what we could see, but now publication of the excavations provides more details. Haaretz gives a popular account of the article published in Kadmoniot.

No less than 80 graves were found in the area, in which, according to the archaeologists' estimates, some 210 bodies were buried. Luckily, unlike most burial caves throughout the country, the Holyland caves were not broken into or raided prior to the scholars' arrival, allowing them to find many whole items that shed light on life and death in Jerusalem during the Bronze Age.

Thus, for example, one of the caves revealed the grave of a warrior of the period. His skeleton was laid out in a supine position, with his personal belongings and gifts for the afterlife positioned near his head. Among other things, his "battle kit" was discovered, as one of the article's authors put it - including an axe, a wide copper belt and a dagger. Also unearthed nearby were a number of delicate yet whole clay utensils.

For Greenhut, the axe was a particularly exciting find. Some 19 years earlier, in 1987, he had worked on an excavation site just beneath the hill, at the current spot of the popular Malha shopping mall, where he discovered the exact same axe. "Apparently it was made at the same workshop, by the same blacksmith; it is the other axe's twin," Greenhut says.


An excavation carried out at the site recently, in preparation for the project's next stage, also revealed artifacts from a much earlier time - the Chalcolithic Period, dating from 6,500 years ago.

The full story is here. For photos, see our 2006 post.

HT: Joseph Lauer

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