Richard T. Nowitz

The House of Rabbi Abun. A tombstone bearing the inscription “Rabbi Abun, rest in honor” (see photograph) was found in secondary use in the ancient village, so the excavators named their reconstructed house in his honor. The inscription on the tombstone no doubt also inspired the reported sighting of an apparition, said to be Rabbi Abun, hovering above the trees nearby one evening in August 1988.

The reconstruction of the house was based on archaeological, ethnographic and literary evidence. The six-foot-high structure at right foreground in the photo contains two “outdoor” ovens used for baking bread. These ovens are “outdoors” in the sense that the shelter that encloses them consists of insubstantial, unplastered walls and is not part of the house proper but rather stands in the alleyway. Smoke from the ovens escapes through the hole in the shelter’s roof. The main entrance to the house is partially visible in the center of the picture, obscured by the left end of the structure with the ovens. (See drawing of the rooms in the House of Rabbi Abun.)