Palestinian researchers in the Gaza Strip have found more than 135 Roman-era graves since January, and many of them are reportedly shocking to archaeologists.
Archaeologists discovered the site during the construction of an Egyptian-funded housing project, the Associated Press reported Sunday. It’s the largest cemetery of its type to be found in the region, taking up more than 2,700 square meters (or roughly 2/3 acre). Believed to be more than 2,000 years old, the site includes at least two rare sarcophagi made entirely of lead.
“All of these tombs have almost already been excavated and have revealed a huge amount of information about the cultural material and also about the state of health of the population and the pathologies from which this population may have suffered,” Première Urgence International archaeology lead Rene Elter said of the finding.
RT shared footage of the site on Twitter, showing an extensive and intricate design.
Palestinian archaeologists have uncovered four ancient sarcophagi in a Roman cemetery in Gaza, adding to the total of 134 graves, some dating back 2,000 years.
The discoveries follow the first excavation of a graveyard from the 1st century BC to the 2nd century AD in Gaza pic.twitter.com/DTv4BCLEeh
— RT (@RT_com) September 24, 2023
One of the sarcophagi features an ornate engraving of grape leaves, while the other features dolphins. “The discovery of lead sarcophagi here is a first for Gaza,” Elter said. (RELATED: ‘Wiped Out In The Blink Of An Eye’: Archaeologist Claims He Has Found The Biblical City Of Sodom)
It’s believed former elites are buried at the site, though their identities are currently unknown, possibly lost to history. Their skeletons are being unearthed and pieced back together as part of the project. They’ll also be sent for analysis at the Hamas-led Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism, AP reported.