In a recent issue of BAR, archaeologists Gabriel Barkay and Amos Kloner described two magnificent burial caves from the First Temple period located just a few hundred yards north of Jerusalem’s old city (“Jerusalem Tombs From the Days of the First Temple,” BAR 12:02). Because these caves are now located on the grounds of the famous French institution of scholars known as the École Biblique et Archéologique Française, they are called the École Biblique tombs.
Each of these two adjacent burial cave complexes covers approximately 10,000 square feet and contains burial chambers (six in one complex, seven in the other) leading off an impressively large, high-ceilinged entrance chamber. Complete with elaborate double cornices and wall paneling carved in the rock, they are furnished with beautiful burial benches decorated with elegant headrests and parapets to frame the bodies of the deceased. Barkay and Kloner describe them as “the most elaborate and the most spacious First Temple period burial caves known to us in all Judah.” The workmanship is “expert” and “highly skilled.”