In the mid-1970s, a number of limestone ossuariesa came onto the Israeli antiquities market, the result of illegal digging. An investigation conducted by the Israel Department of Antiquities located the source of the ossuaries in the Jericho hills, and prompted an emergency salvage excavation. That excavation, led by Rachel Hachlili, uncovered a Jewish cemetery more than seven miles long. This mammoth cemetery spans seven Jericho hills and includes approximately 120 excavated and surveyed tomb-caves. The tombs encompass a 150-year period that ended when the Romans destroyed Jericho in 68 A.D. in their campaign to crush the First Jewish Revolt.
The general features of the cemetery have already been described for BAR readers (“Ancient Burial Customs Preserved in Jericho Hills,” BAR 05:04). This article will focus on one tomb, the largest and most monumental in the cemetery, and on the obviously prominent family buried there. The article will also describe how modern computer technology enhanced discoveries about the people buried in this Jericho cemetery 2,000 years ago.