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29 June 2009
Intact ancient tomb uncovered in Bethlehem

Workers renovating a house in Bethlehem (Palestinian territories) accidentally discovered an untouched ancient tomb containing clay pots, plates, beads and the bones of two humans, a Palestinian antiquities official said. The 4,000-year-old tomb provides a glimpse of the burial customs of the area's inhabitants during the Canaanite period, said Mohammed Ghayyada, director of the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
     Workers in a house near the Church of the Nativity uncovered a hole leading to the grave, which was about one meter (yard) below ground, he said. They contacted antiquities officials, who photographed the grave intact before removing its contents. They dated the grave to the Early Bronze Age, between 1,900 BCE and 2,200 BCE. Jerusalem-based archaeologist and historian Stephen Pfann called the find "an important reference to the life of the Canaanites," adding that it could give a glimpse into life in the area before the time when the Biblical patriarchs are said to have lived. While many artifacts exist from this period, intact graves are rare, mainly because of looting, he said.
     The findings will be housed in the Bethlehem Peace Center, a cultural center not far from where the tomb was discovered.

Sources: Associated Press, Yahoo! News (23 June 2009)

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