Fourteen pit graves (T1–T14; Fig. 2) were excavated; these were dug in the hard hamra soil and marked or covered with dark gray mud bricks. Usually, the covering slabs did not remain and all that was left were a few bricks. The grave covering did not always overlap the deceased; a short time might have elapsed between the burial until the grave was covered with bricks. The identification of a burial place made it possible for later interments to take into account existing graves.
Four graves were found empty and skeletal remains were discovered in ten graves. The kind of soil was apparently a factor in the loss of organic matter and effected the preservation of the skeletons; hence, only parts of skeletons had survived. Despite the poorly preserved bones in the graves, it can be conclude that each grave contained a single individual in anatomical articulation and primary burial.
A description of the finds in the graves follows hereafter.
T1. No bones were discovered.
T2. The bones of an adult individual in anatomical articulation were found. The individual was lying on the right side with the legs in the east and the head, which was not found, in the west, apparently facing south. The postcranial bones included the upper limbs and the lower section of the body. The head of the femur was fused to the body of the bone, a find characteristic of an individual older than 19 years of age (Johnston F.E. and Zimmer L.O. 1989. Assessment of Growth and Age in the Immature Skeleton. In Iscan N.Y. and Kenneth A.R., eds. Reconstruction of Life from the Skeleton. New-York. Pp. 11–22). The individual’s gender is not clear.
T3. A child’s upper premolar was discovered in the southwestern side of the grave. Based on the development of the tooth—about half the height of crown—the child was c. 5–6 years of age (Ubelaker D.H. 1989. Human Skeletal Remains: Excavation, Analysis, Interpretation [2nd Edition]. Washington D.C. Fig. 62).
T4. The finds included non-diagnostic fragments of human bones, apparently representative of a single individual. The age and sex of the deceased are not clear.
T5. Human bones of an adult individual were discovered. The bones included ribs and an in situ mandible. The location of the bones in the grave suggests articulation, whereby the head was in the western side, facing south and the legs, which were not preserved, in the east. Based on the extent of dental erosion, the individual was 30–40 years of age (Hillson S. 1986. Teeth. Cambridge. Pp. 176–201). On the first lower molar was evidence of caries in the medial side of the tooth’s crown, which also damaged the root of the tooth.
T6. A femur was discovered lying in an east–west direction, with the head of the femur in the west. According to the size and shape of the bone, it can be concluded that it belonged to an adult individual, older than 15 years of age (Bass WM. 1987. Human Osteology. A Laboratory and Field Manual [3rd edition]. Columbia, Ms. Pp. 207–211). The bone seems to be representative of an adult’s skeleton that was not preserved. The position of the bone indicates the individual was buried in an east–west direction, with the head in the west.
T7. A humerus lying in an east–west direction, with the head of the bone in the west, was discovered. Based on the size and shape of the bone it can be concluded that it belonged to an adult individual greater than 15 years of age (Bass 1987:143–158). The bone seems to be representative of an adult’s skeleton that was not preserved. The position of the bone shows that the individual was buried in an east–west direction with the head in the west.
T8 (Figs. 3, 4). Human bones were discovered in anatomical articulation. The individual is lying on the right side, with the head in the west, facing south, legs in the east, and the hands outstretched above the pelvis. Based on the size of the long bones and the fact that the head of the femur is fused to the body of the bone, the individual is greater than 19 years of age (Johnston and Zimmer 1989). Based on the bulkiness of the long bones and their morphology, the individual is apparently a male (Bass 1987).
T9 (Fig. 5). Human bones of a child were discovered in anatomical articulation. The child was lying on its right side, with the head in the west, facing south, the feet in the east, the hands outstretched above the pelvis and the legs flexed. According to the dental development the child was 11–12 years of age (Ubelaker 1989: Fig. 62; a third molar developed to the point of approximately one third the height of the crown).
T10. No bones were discovered.
T11. Human bones of an adult individual in anatomical articulation were discovered, whereby the head (not found) was in the west and feet in the east. The individual was in a supine position, with the arms at the side of the body, the lower part of the body inclined to the right so that the legs were placed one atop the other. Based on the size of the long bones and the fact that some of the ends of the bones (the epiphyses) of the upper body were fused to the body of the bone, the individual was an adult, greater than 15 years of age (Johnston and Zimmer 1989). The sex of the individual is not clear.
T12. No bones were discovered.
T13. Human bones belonging to a child were discovered in anatomical articulation. The child was lying on the right side, with the head in the west, facing south, and feet in the east; the legs were flexed. According to the dental development, the child was 15–18 years of age (Ubelaker 1989: Fig. 62); a third molar developed to the point of approximately two thirds the height of the crown; a first molar with worn enamel on all of the cusps; and localized dentin exposure was detected on a second molar.
T14. No bones were discovered.
Apart from the mud bricks above the tombs and the human remains in the graves, the finds were negligible. Several body fragments of pottery vessels dating from the Persian until the Byzantine periods were found inside the mud bricks. These do not necessarily indicate the time of burial; instead, they show that the material used to prepare the bricks was dug sometime later than the Byzantine period. No finds were discovered in the hamra soil, in which the graves were dug.
It seems that the cemetery served a civilian population because both adults and children were found. Each grave contained one individual, and they were buried in a similar position: an east–west direction, with the head in the west, oftentimes facing south. Some of the individuals were found lying on their right side. Presumably, the excavated graves are a continuation of the cemetery that had been excavated nearby and dated to the Mamluk period.