Richard Nowitz

The burial chamber (room 6), unlit by candles. Burial benches where the bodies were laid line two sides of the chamber. Under the right-hand bench is a hollowed-out cavity; here the bones of the deceased were removed when the bench was needed for a new burial. This cavity, or bone repository, makes real the Biblical phrases, “slept with his fathers” and “gathered unto their fathers.”

This burial chamber is actually a double chamber; the doorway at the back of the chamber leads to a second burial room (room 7; see plan). There are no benches and no bone repository in this innermost room of the École Biblique tombs. Instead sarcophagi were carved from the rock. Archaeologists suggest that this innermost room held the most important burials; here the deceased were laid, not to be moved. Could this room have been the final resting place of a king of Judah in the eighth or seventh century B.C.?