Heavy Rain Uncovers 2,000-Year-Old Tomb in Homeowner's Backyard


A night of heavy rain and flash flooding led a Palestinian man living in the Gaza Strip to discover the remnants of an ancient civilization right in his backyard.

Twenty-four-year-old Abdelkarim al-Kafarna’s family home was destroyed during the 2014 armed conflict between Israelis and Palestinian militants. Constant bombardment also created huge craters in the garden.

Last month, al-Kafarna was drawn to one particular hole in his garden that rainfall was running through. That hole led him to an ancient, underground tomb complex with nine graves.

“I discovered the place where the water was falling in,” al-Kafarna told the AFP news agency. He detailed how, after lifting up a large stone, he discovered a flight of stairs leading down about 13 feet into the ground.

“I lifted the stone and a stale smell came out,” he said.

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In some of the burial holes, al-Kafarna found bones, votive lamps and other pieces of pottery.

According to archaeologists, the tomb is about 2,000 years old, meaning it was constructed when the region was under Roman rule.

“The burial and excavation methods in this tomb date it back to the Roman period, but it may have continued in use into the early Byzantine period,” said Gaza-based archaeologist Ayman Hassouna.

University of North Carolina professor Jodi Magness, also an archaeologist, said tombs like these were somewhat common in the region during two different time periods — between the years 100 B.C. and 100 A.D., and between 300 and 500 A.D.

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“Typically, these were family tombs, or sometimes larger tomb complexes could be divided up among families,” she told AFP.

During the Roman era, Gaza was a busy port, though many of its cultural artifacts have been lost though the years. For more than a decade, the strip of land has been controlled by Hamas, a militant Islamist group.

It’s not the first time in recent months that there has been a significant archaeological find in the region.

As The Western Journal reported in October 2017, archaeologists unearthed previously unknown sections of Jerusalem’s Western Wall and a Roman theater in Israel near the Western Wall plaza.

The finds were made beneath Wilson’s Arch, according to Fox News. It was once part of a bridge leading to the Temple Mount.

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The excavators had expected to dig into a road, but instead found eight layers of stones that were part of the Western Wall, which itself was part of the retaining wall dating back from the days when the Temple Mount in Jerusalem was home to the Jewish temple.

“These stones are soaked in history. We are not here to uncover stones, we are here to uncover roots,” said Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall. “Time after time the amazing archaeological findings allow our generation to actually touch the ancient history of our people and Jewish heritage and its deep connection to Jerusalem.”

“This is indeed one of the most important findings in all my 30 years at the Western Wall Heritage Foundation,” Western Wall Heritage Foundation Director Mordechai Eliav said in a statement. “The uncovering, for the first time after some 1,700 years, of these stones from lower courses of the Western Wall is very exciting.”

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Joe Setyon was a deputy managing editor for The Western Journal who had spent his entire professional career in editing and reporting. He previously worked in Washington, D.C., as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine.
Joe Setyon was deputy managing editor for The Western Journal with several years of copy editing and reporting experience. He graduated with a degree in communication studies from Grove City College, where he served as managing editor of the student-run newspaper. Joe previously worked as an assistant editor/reporter for Reason magazine, a libertarian publication in Washington, D.C., where he covered politics and wrote about government waste and abuse.
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