5 June 2020 - 14 Sivan 5780 - י"ד סיון ה' אלפים תש"פ
Remains of decapitated toads found in 4,000-year-old tomb E-mail

Intriguing evidence of burial customs in the Canaanite period uncovered near the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo has revealed the remains of decapitated toads, as well as evidence of the cultivation of date palms and myrtle bushes, perhaps as part of funerary rituals.

The research was launched by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in co-operation with several academic institutions. The archaeological excavation took place in 2014 with funding from the Housing Ministry (the Arim Urban Development Company) prior to the expansion of the Manaḥat neighbourhood, and the results were presented to the public for the first time at a conference titled “New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region”, held at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on 18 October.

In the new research, remains that were found in vessels placed in the tomb as funerary offerings were examined using advanced scientific methods. The task was a co-operative effort between various academic institutions, led by Shua Kisilevitz and Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, IAA, with Dr Dafna Langgut of Tel Aviv’s Institute of Archaeology and Steinhardt Museum of Natural History; Dr Lior Weisbrod of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa; Dr David Ilan, director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College, and Nathan Ben-Ari of IAA.

The excavation directors explained: “This section of the Nahal Repha’im basin was fertile ground for settlement throughout time, especially during the Canaanite period. In recent years, excavations in the area have uncovered two settlement sites, two temples and a number of cemeteries, which provide new insight into the life of the local population at that time.”

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