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2,000-year-old burial complex discovered in Tiberias

June 11, 2018

Israeli construction workers unearthed a cave in Tiberias which was likely a family burial space from Roman times.

Chamber with various burial niches
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Peleg

Construction workers using a digger exposed what appeared to be an ancient burial site some 10 meters (33 feet) underground while working in Tiberias, a city in northern Israel located on the Sea of Galilee, a spokesperson from Israel's Antiquities Authority confirmed on Monday.

Workers viewing the outside of the site
A digger exposed the cave during construction workImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Peleg

The space is some two meters high and includes an entranceway as well as the central chamber containing more than 10 grave niches. "The cave must have been a burial space for a family living in Tiberias or a neighboring village," said spokesperson Yair Amitsur, adding that the discovery is "virtually one-of-a-kind" for this area.

The craftsmanship on the limestone is of high quality, she said, with meticulous decoration and engravings in Greek, leading researchers to believe that the family was wealthy. The entranceway is plastered over in color.

Entranceway and burial niche
The niches were used multiple times, researchers saidImage: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Peleg

The chamber also contains decorated chests of stone and ceramics, in which the bones of the deceased were placed. The grave niches were used multiple times.

According to Israel's Antiquities Authority, Tiberias was founded 2,000 years ago, in the year 18 A.D., and named after Roman Emerorer Tiberius.

als/eg  (dpa, KNA)