Garo Nalbandian

A mammoth rosette decorates the carved domed ceiling of the main chamber of the triple-gated tomb, the most magnificent at Akeldama. Thirty-two petals surround a small whorl rosette at center whose petals are still faintly visible. Stylized acanthus leaves fill the corners. The domed ceiling and nearby decoration distinguish this chamber from every other Second Temple-period tomb in Jerusalem; with one exception, other tombs contain no sculpted internal decoration.

Three loculi (kochim) are carved into the wall at right in the photo; the center loculus is framed by a mock Attic doorway. This doorway was not meant to provide passage; the false door was filled at bottom by a blocking stone carved in the same style as the false door. The “doorway” was actually an elaborately decorated burial cavity for a highly honored person.