It is difficult to reconstruct the entire plan of the cave due to the damage done to its northern part, removing a portion of the main burial chamber, the cave's opening and façade, and possibly a passageway or a courtyard (Fig. 4).
The openings of two loculi (Fig. 5) were visible in the eastern wall of the main burial chamber (Room I; width c. 2.5 m, height 1.8 m, preserved length 1.3 m). Loculus 1 (length 1.95 m, height 0.65 m) was only partially preserved. Loculus 2 (length 1.9 m, width 0.5 m, height 0.7 m) was found sealed with a closing stone slab; an articulated human skeleton was discovered inside it, with no additional finds.
An arcosolium (width 0.5 m, height 0.8 m; Figs. 4:5; 6) was hewn in the western wall of the burial chamber. Its southern part was preserved to a height of c. 1 m above the floor. A rectangular depression (length 0.75 m, width 0.5 m, depth 0.5 m; Fig. 4:4) was hewn in the floor of the burial chamber, near the arcosolium. An opening (width 0.3 m, height 0.45 m) sealed with a closing stone slab was fixed in the depression’s western wall and led to an elliptical repository (length 0.7 m, width 0.35 m; Figs. 4:6, 7). Human bones were discovered inside the repository, without any other finds. Another burial loculus (length 1.95 m, width 0.5 m, height 0.7 m; Figs. 4:3; 5), found sealed with a closing slab, was installed in the eastern part of the southern wall; an articulated human skeleton was found inside with no additional artifacts. All three loculi had arched ceilings.
A doorway (width 0.45 m, height 0.65 m) leading to a rectangular room (II; length 1.7 m, width 1.1 m, height 1.5 m) was hewn in the western part of the southern wall. Its floor was 0.65 m lower than the entrance, but there was no step. Arcosolia of identical size (length 1.7 m, width 0.5 m, max. height 0.8 m, Figs. 4:7, 8; 8) were hewn in the room’s eastern and western walls, 0.65 m above the floor֫—the same level as the floor in Room I.
A hewn opening (length 0.4 m, width 0.1 m, height 0.5 m; Fig. 9) in the center of the southern wall of Room II led to a cavity (III; length 1.1 m, width 0.8 m, height 1 m); a fragment of the closing slab was found inside the cavity. The cavity was probably used for either collecting bones or for placing ossuaries. No other artifacts were found in Room II or in Cavity III.
The burial cave has common architectural features—loculi
, closing slabs and bone repositories—that are characteristic of burial caves used by Jews in the Late Second Temple period. Room II, which had arcosolia
hewn in its walls, was hewn the inner part of the burial complex. Research suggests that this is an additional rock-cutting, intended for the storage of ossuaries, and it can be dated to the first century CE. The combination of an arcosolium
in in Room I allows us to date the entire burial complex to that century, and indicates that the users of the cave were accustomed to interring primary burials in the loculi
and secondary burials in ossuaries (Kloner and Zissu 2003
:36–40). The burial cave constitutes part of Jerusalem’s necropolis in the latter part of the Second Temple period.