David Harris

Sockets for roof beams appear as a line of holes below tombs 9 and 10 (at right in the photo). Holes such as these appear at several places on Silwan’s rock wall, especially above the horizontal ledge along the lower level of burial caves. In the Byzantine period (fourth through seventh centuries) and possibly during the Crusader period (12th century) Christian hermits erected and occupied huts in Silwan. The 15th-century traveler Felix Fabri recorded in his chronicle, “We … passed by many dwellings and cells cut out of the walls of rock … wherein once devout and religious Christian men dwelt … We viewed these cells with wonder at the plain living of the saints of old, who out of their love for God and desire for the Holy Land, shut themselves up among the tombs of the dead, and endured to dwell in tiny caves.”