“Good luck on your resurrection!” : The World of Ancient Jewish Tomb Graffiti

Archaeologist Karen Stern in the catacombs of Beit She'arim (Photo: W. O'Leary)

An interesting story appears on the NPR web-site this morning, dealing with the little-known world of funerary graffiti found in Jewish tombs of  Roman-era Palestine. One particular focus is the great necropolis at Bet Shear’im, but parts of that cemetery not accessible to the public and never fully documented until now. Another site currently being subjected to research is a unnamed, hidden tomb site somewhere in the Shefelah. Among the several experts quoted in the article are Israeli archaeologists Boaz Zissu of the IAA and Karen Stern, who teaches at Brooklyn College and is just wrapping up a fellowship at Jerusalem’s Albright Institute.

The story is here:  http://www.npr.org/2011/06/19/137257434/archaeologists-unscramble-ancient-graffiti-in-israel  It is accompanied by a slide show of 16 images (photos by W. O’Leary). An audio version of the story (13 min.) is available via a link.

A Beit She'arim inscription in Aramaic: "...Shimon son of Yohanan ... Whoever shall open upon him shall die of an unfortunate end." (Photo: W. O'Leary)

Beit She'arim: Incised inscription in Greek (letters traced in blue): "GOOD LUCK ON YOUR RESURRECTION"

 

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