The Hasmonean period began with the successful revolt of the Maccabees; Jews even today celebrate this event at the festival of Chanukah. The Hasmonean period ended when Herod the Great assumed the crown of the Jewish state in 37 B.C. He ruled until 4 B.C. when his son Archelaus succeeded him as the ethnarch of Judea, Samaria and Idumea until his removal in 6 A.D.


Several wooden coffins were also found in a Judean desert cave. See Nachman Avigad, “Expedition A—The burial caves in Nahal David” Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962) pp. 181–83.


We also found some single-loculus tombs which had been cut into the hillside.


In two tombs we found bones from several bodies, in piles without a container, collected in the loculi and on the benches. This could represent a third type of burial, intermediate in time between the coffin burials and the ossuaries, or contemporary with the ossuary burials.


“Jewish” is used, according to the terminology of Frank Moore Cross, to describe the script of the Second Temple Period. This script was employed at that time to write both Hebrew and Aramaic.


See Rachel Hachlili, “A Jerusalem Family in Jericho,” BASOR 230, (1978) pp. 45–56.


See Semahot VIII, 7, and S. Lieberman, “Some Aspects of Afterlife in Rabbinical Literature,” American Academy for Jewish Research 1965, I, pp. 495–532. On p. 509, “Since there is no doubt that it was permitted to place the personal belongings of the deceased beside his body, not because he is in need of them, but because the sin arouses the grief of the onlookers.”


See L. Y. Rahmani, “Jewish Rock-Cut Tombs in Jerusalem”, Atiqot III (1961), p. 119 and note 6. Here he traces the practice of placing coins in tombs to a Greco-Roman belief, whereby a coin was placed in the mouth of the deceased in order to pay Charon for conveying his shade across the Styx. However, Jews looked upon the custom of placing coins in tombs as idolatrous.


L. Y. Rahmani, “Ossuaries and Bone-Gathering in the Late Second Temple Period,” Qadmoniot 44 (1978), pp. 111–112. Evidence has been found of Jewish secondary burial well into Talmudic times in the fourth century A.D. See Eric and Carol Meyers, “Digging the Talmud in Ancient Meiron,” BAR 04:02.


For a summary of these various views see L. Y. Rahmani, “Jewish Rock-cut tombs in Jerusalem,” ‘Atiqot III, 1961, pp. 117–118 and notes 6–7; and Eric Meyers, Jewish Ossuaries: Reburial and Rebirth, Rome 1971, pp. 80–89.


L. Y. Rahmani, “Jewish Rock-cut Tombs in Jerusalem”, ‘Atiqot III, 1961, p. 117, n. 6.


Ibid., pp. 117–18, n. 7.