Boaz Zissu (Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel) “Jerusalem and Judean Tombs and Burial Customs in the First Century CE”


While the urban necropolis of Jerusalem during the late Second Temple period (2nd c. BCE-1st c. CE) has been thoroughly studied, the more distant Jewish rural areas have mostly been neglected. The planned paper attempts to present an overview of the tombs’ architecture, burial customs and chronology of Jewish burial in the Judean countryside vs. those in the urban centre of Jerusalem during the 2nd c. BCE – 2nd c. CE.

Jerusalem’s necropoleis of the late Second Temple period were extensively studied (Kloner and Zissu 2007), similarly to the burial grounds of important contemporaneous sites like Jericho, ‘En Gedi, and Qumran (Hachlili 2005, and lit. cit. there).

However, the burial customs of Jewish rural settlements scattered all over the Judean countryside were never examined as a whole. A primary attempt to study the phenomenon was undertaken in my PhD thesis (Zissu 2001).

The present study’s purpose is to present an overview of Jewish rock-cut tombs located near farms, estates, villages, and towns situated in Judea proper [i.e. the area extending from the Samarian border in the north to the Be’er Sheva Valley in the south and from the Jordan Valley in the east to the Coastal Plain in the west (Josephus, War, 3, 51)].

The lecture addresses archaeological issues: the location of tombs in relation to inhabited areas, the architecture of rock-cut burial caves, tomb markers and architectural decoration, spatial distribution of graves, the tomb’s chronology, the prevalent burial customs and practices.


Hachlili R., 2005, Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period, Leiden and Boston.

Kloner A., and Zissu B., 2007, The Necropolis of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period. Leuven and Dudley.

Zissu B., 2001, Rural Settlement in the Judean Hills and Foothills from the Late Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt, PhD Thesis, Hebrew University, Jerusalem (Hebrew).