“Extremely rare” Ramses II era burial cave found in Israel

“Extremely rare” Ramses II era burial cave found in Israel

Israeli archaeologists announced on Sunday the “once in a lifetime” discovery of a burial cave from the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II, filled with dozens of ceramic pieces and bronze artifacts.

The cave was discovered on a beach Tuesday when a mechanical digger working in Palmahim National Park struck the roof, with archaeologists using a ladder to descend into the spacious man-made square cave.

In a video released by the Israel Antiquities Authority, stunned archaeologists point torches at dozens of ceramic pots in a variety of shapes and sizes, dating back to the reign of the ancient Egyptian king who died in 1213 BC.

In the cave one could see bowls – some painted red, others containing bones – chalices, pots, storage vessels, lamps and bronze arrowheads or spearheads.

The objects were funeral offerings to accompany the deceased on their last journey to the afterlife, found intact since they were placed there some 3,300 years ago.

At least one relatively intact skeleton was also found in two rectangular plots in the corner of the cave.

“The cave could provide a complete picture of Late Bronze Age funerary customs,” said Eli Yannai, an IAA Bronze Age expert.

It’s an “extremely rare find … unrepeatable,” said Yannai, pointing to the extra fortune of the cave that remained sealed until its recent discovery.

– ‘Like an Indiana Jones movie’ –

The findings date back to the reign of Ramses II, who controlled Canaan, a territory that roughly included present-day Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The provenance of the ceramic vessels – Cyprus, Lebanon, northern Syria, Gaza and Jaffa – testifies to the “buoyant commercial activity that has taken place along the coast,” Yannai said in an IAA statement.

Another IAA archaeologist, David Gelman, theorized the identity of the skeletons in the cave, located in what is now a famous beach in central Israel.

“The fact that these people were buried along with weapons, including whole arrows, shows that these people could have been warriors, perhaps they were guards on ships, which may have been why they were able to obtain ships from all over. the area, “he said.

Regardless of who the cave dwellers were, the find was “incredible,” Gelman said.

“Burial caves are rare as they are, and finding one that hasn’t been touched since it was first used 3,300 years ago is something you rarely find,” he said.

“It looks like something out of an Indiana Jones movie: just enter the ground and everything is there as it was initially: intact ceramic pots, weapons, bronze pots, burials just as they were.”

The cave has been closed and is under surveillance as a plan for its excavation is formulated, the IAA said.

He noted that “some items” had been looted in the short period of time between its discovery and closure.

jjm / pjm

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