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2,000-Year-Old Burial Cave Found

July 4, 2018

by: Edgar Asher, Ashernet

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The Roman era burial cave found in Tiberias

A fine and complex burial cave, dating back some 2,000 years from the Roman period, came to light recently in Tiberias. A mechanical digger, excavating the site for a new neighborhood in the municipality, exposed the cave entrance, and the contractor informed the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) of the discovery immediately.

The rock-hewn cave comprised an entrance hall decorated with colored plaster, a central room with several burial niches, decorated ceramic and stone ossuaries and a small inner chamber. Carved stone doors stood at the entrances into the rooms. In one of the chambers, the names of the interred were engraved in Greek. These inscriptions will be studied by specialists. The cave was, in all probability, robbed in antiquity.

Two thousand years ago, in AD 18, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, and governor of the Galilee, established the city of Tiberias and named it in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberias. Over the centuries, Tiberias served as the capital of the Galilee, and was, at one time, one of the largest cities in the country.

According to Yair Amitsur, “The burial cave is a fascinating discovery since it is an almost unique find in this area. The high-quality rock-hewing, the complexity of the cave, the decorations, and the Greek inscriptions point to the cave belonging to a wealthy family who lived in the area in the Roman period and who chose to be interred north of Tiberias, overlooking the lake of Galilee.”

The cave has now been blocked up in order to protect it, and it will be researched by experts from the IAA.

Photo Credit: miki peleg/IAA/Ashernet

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