Zev Radovan

Glowing in the daylight, ossuaries removed from the Goliath family tomb cave near Jericho are carefully examined by archaeologists Rachel Hachlili and Ann Killebrew. Typically about 20 inches long, 12 inches high, and 10 inches wide, these often decorated and sometimes inscribed limestone boxes protected the disarticulated bones of the dead. It was a common practice for Jews, in the centuries around the turn of the era, especially in the Jerusalem area, to bury their dead for about a year in stone niches in caves. After the flesh decomposed, the bones were gathered into ossuaries which, like these, were placed in sealed burial caves.