Archaeologists are now re-excavating an ancient tomb that has been historically linked to Jesus’ midwife in the hills southwest of Jerusalem, the antiquities department announced on Tuesday.
The ornately built Jewish burial complex dates to roughly the first century A.D., but local Christians eventually connected it to Salome, the woman who gave birth to Jesus in the Gospels. The location saw the construction of a Byzantine chapel and remained a centre of adoration for many years afterward.
An Israeli archaeologist initially discovered and explored the cave decades ago. Archaeologists are currently excavating the cave’s expansive forecourt as part of a regional initiative to build historic trails.
Crosses and inscriptions in Greek and Arabic carved in the cave walls during the Byzantine and Islamic periods indicate that the chapel was dedicated to Salome.
Crosses and inscriptions in Greek and Arabic etched in the cave walls during the Byzantine (also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire) and Islamic periods indicate that the chapel was dedicated to Salome (a biblical figure).
Pilgrims would “rent oil lamps, enter into the cave, used to pray, come out in give back the oil lamp,” said Ziv Firer, director of the excavation. “We found tens of them, with beautiful decorations of plants and flowers.”
(With inputs from agencies)