Garo Nalbandian

Garbage, soot and debris befoul a number of burial caves (such as the one in the photo) in the area known as Akeldama, traditionally associated with the Biblical “potter’s field” where strangers were buried (Matthew 27:7). Recent excavations and analyses show that the Akeldama caves were in fact elegant burial tombs used by Jerusalem’s elite—including one that might have belonged to the High Priest Annas.

In years past, Bedouin shepherds and squatters took shelter in some caves, often blackening the walls and ceilings with soot from their fires and leaving behind piles of garbage. Recently, construction crews have used the caves as a dump, strewing them with rubbish and debris.

As part of the celebrations of Jerusalem’s 3,000th anniversary next year, the Israel Antiquities Authority plans to clean up and restore many of the city’s archaeological sites. We urge that Akeldama be one of them.