Monday, November 12, 2007

Susiya 2: Burial Plots

Susiyah was a Jewish city of average size. It existed from the 3rd to the 9th century, C.E.. The city was built on three hills with agricultural areas between them. The main street of the ancient city leads to the synagogue situated on the top of the southern hill. Within the city there are many courtyards and caves used as dwelling, workshops, and storage areas.

Another burial cave, this one with a cover stone to be rolled in front.

Jewish custom of the time was to bury the deceased in a field for a year, allowing the flesh to decompose. After a year, the family would then collect the bones and bury them in the family cave. The entrance area to the cave was carved out of the ground by hand, and was a traditional place for family picnics.

Beyond the caves lie the city walls.

By the time the village was founded, the Romans had centuries earlier cleansed the Jerusalem area of Jews, and the overwhelming majority of the survivors had been exiled to Babylon, or hauled to the far reaches of the Roman Empire to serve as slaves.

And now, on to the city.

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