Biblical Archaeology Review 45:4, July/August September/October 2019

Baby Burials in the Middle Bronze Age

By Beth Alpert Nakhai

Almost as soon as people began making containers from clay, they began burying their dead babies in storage jars.1

The custom of infant jar burials (IJBs) began in the Pottery Neolithic period (seventh–fifth millennia B.C.E.) and, in the Levant, lasted even beyond the Iron Age (1200–587 B.C.E.). It was most popular, though, in the Middle Bronze Age (2000–1550 B.C.E.), when IJBs are found at Canaanite sites from Syria to the eastern Nile Delta, and especially in the southern Levant.2 A typical IJB contained an infant younger than one year and grave goods—one or two small vessels and maybe a scarab or a blade. The jars themselves are standard domestic store jars, usually buried under the floors of houses or courtyards, but sometimes deposited in communal tombs.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.