Israel recovers 11 looted ancient burial boxes
JERUSALEM - The Associated Press
A 2,000 year-old Jewish burial box is on display in Jerusalem. AP photoThe Israeli Antiquities Authority unveiled 11 ancient burial boxes March 31 that were recovered by the Israeli Police last week.
Officials say the boxes are 2,000 years old. Some are engraved with designs and even names, giving clues to their origin and contents. The boxes contain bone fragments and remnants of what experts say is pottery buried with the deceased.
The authority says the boxes were recovered on March 28 in Jerusalem when police observed a suspicious nighttime transaction involving two cars, four individuals and the 11 boxes. Once police realized the boxes were of archaeological significance, they alerted the Antiquities Authority. It is not yet clear how the suspects got hold of the boxes.
These boxes, or ossuaries, are believed to originate from the Second Temple Period. Experts say they are from within a 2 km radius of Jerusalem.
The Antiquities Authority already has in its possession over 1,000 of these ancient boxes. But deputy director of the authority Dr. Eitan Klein said that each box was significant.
“We can learn from each ossuary about a different aspect of language, art and burial practice,” he said.
Some of the boxes feature elaborate engravings, which Klein says is indicative of wealth and a high social status of the deceased. Two were inscribed with names - Yoezer and Ralphine.
According to common Jewish practice of the time, the deceased were not buried but laid out in a cave for one year. Afterword the bones were then gathered and stored in the special boxes.