1700-year-old gravestones of unknown rabbis uncovered in northern Israel
Three ancient gravestone epitaphs written in Aramaic and in Greek were recently uncovered in the Galilee region in northern Israel. The people commemorated in two of the inscriptions are described as rabbis.
Three ancient gravestone epitaphs written in Aramaic and in Greek were recently uncovered in the Galilee region in northern Israel. The people commemorated in two of the inscriptions are described as rabbis, but their exact names and identities have yet to be identified by further research.
The two epitaphs end with the Hebrew greeting word “shalom” (meaning ‘hello’ or ‘peace’). The Greek inscription mentions the name “Jose,” which at the time had been a very common name among Jews in Israel and in the diaspora.
The gravestones were buried in the western part of the cemetery of the Jewish community of Zippori in the Lower Galilee region, which was a major Jewish city in ancient times. The information that ultimately led to the discovery originally came from residents of the community.
The excavation was conducted by researchers from the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology in Kinneret College, and from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).
“One of the surprises in the newly uncovered inscriptions is that one of the people buried is nicknamed as ‘The Tiberian’,” said Dr. Motti Aviam from the Kinneret College. “This is the second case of a person from Tiberias buried in the Zippori cemetery. Perhaps Jews from all around the Galilee chose to be buried in Zippori due to Judah the Prince’s important activities in the city.”
Judah the Prince, nicknamed simply ‘Rabbi’, was the chief redactor of the Jewish Mishnah (the first major work of Rabbinic literature) and he lived in Zippori during the Roman occupation. Zippori was the first capital of the Galilee region in Hasmonean times, until Tiberias was founded in the first century CE.
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