Zev Radovan, courtesy Yizhar Hirschfeld

Communal life, communal death. Skulls of monks line the walls of a burial cave at St. George’s Monastery and crosses and epitaphs decorate the white plaster. In an unusual practice believed to have evolved after the 13th century, a deceased monk at St. George’s is first buried in a simple grave in the ground. After three years his remains are transferred to a burial trough in the cave and his skull is added to the row along the walls. Burials in other monasteries reflect the wide variety of Byzantine-period funerary customs: burial in private or communal caves, in trough graves, under church floors or in crypts.