. The opening to the tomb, which was blocked by a stone, was hewn in the northwestern side of the cave. It led to a square burial chamber that had three loculi
hewn in its northeastern wall and two loculi
hewn in its southwestern wall (Figs. 2–4). Another opening, probably a later breach which was sealed in the modern era with cinder blocks and plaster, was found in the cave’s southeastern corner. Remains of plaster and modern inscriptions were discovered on the walls of the cave. An Early Roman cooking pot (Fig. 5:1) with a perforation in its neck was recovered from the soil fill in the northwestern loculus
(L315). According to Jewish tradition, pottery vessels are subject to the ritual laws of cleanliness. Thus, it is possible that the pot, being impure, was intentionally perforated to render it unfit for further use. Human bones arranged in an anatomic position were exposed beneath the soil fill. The skeleton was supine, with the head on the northern side. The deceased is estimated to be 15–19 years of age because the ends of the femur (epiphyses) were not fused to the body of the bone (Johnston and Zimmer 1989
). Fragments of poorly preserved human bones were discovered in the adjacent loculus
(L306). These included the bones of an upper limb and finger and toe bones, which apparently belonged to an adult individual.
. The cave was destroyed in the past, and three loculi
were all that remained of it (Fig. 6). The middle loculus
(L301) contained a jar sherd dating to the either the Late Roman and Byzantine periods (Fig. 5:2) and fragments of human bones belonging to two individuals: an adult of indeterminate age and sex and an adolescent, c. 15 years of age according to the dental development (Ubelaker 1989
: Fig. 62). Bone fragments that probably belong to a single adult were exposed in the southern loculus
. The tomb’s opening was hewn in the cave’s eastern wall. It led to a rectangular burial chamber (L314; Fig. 7) that had five loculi
hewn in two of its walls (Fig. 8). An arcosolium
and a burial bench below it were hewn in the northeastern wall. A small loculus
that may have been used as a bone repository was hewn above the bench (Fig. 9). Fragments of human bones that probably belonged to a single individual of indeterminate age and sex were exposed in the burial chamber. Evidence of rock-cuttings could be discerned above the opening of the middle loculus
in the northwestern wall of the cave, suggesting that it was blocked with a stone. A rectangular tablet, probably for an inscription, was also cut in the stone wall above the loculus
. A fragment of a long bone belonging to a young individual, 10–15 years of age (Johnston and Zimmer 1989
), was discovered in the adjacent loculus
(L309). As very few bones were found in the cave, it was probably been excavated or plundered in the past.
Similar burial caves containing ossuaries (License Nos. B-162/1988, B-32/1998; the ossuaries are mentioned in Zelinger 2009
:49) and stone vessels characteristic of a Jewish population (Dayan, Schiff, Arbel and Gendelman 2013
) were found in previous excavations at the site. It can therefore be assumed that the caves discovered in this excavation were used by a Jewish population in the Early Roman period as well.