Biblical Archaeology Review 33:6, November/December 2007

Another View: The Disappearance of Two Royal Burials

In the July/August issue of BAR, Norma Franklin describes in detail how she managed to identify two royal Israelite tombs cut into the rock beneath the monumental palace built by King Omri in Samaria in the ninth century B.C.E.a The palace and the alleged tombs were excavated nearly a hundred years ago by the famous Harvard archaeologist George A. Reisner, who was ably aided by the highly regarded excavation architect Clarence S. Fisher. The two alleged royal tombs are identical in shape, size and orientation. Franklin labels the first one Tomb A; she assigns this to King Omri himself. The second she labels Tomb B and assigns it to Omri’s wife or to Omri’s son King Ahab.

The fact is that Franklin’s Tomb B is a phantom: It simply does not exist. It is a totally imaginary creation. Its identification results from Franklin’s misinterpretation of a cross-section drawing published in the original excavation report. As to Franklin’s Tomb A, many of its characteristics indicate that this rock-cut cave is not a tomb at all. It lacks any features that would indicate it is a tomb.

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