Photo by Ezra Gabbay

THE MORTUARY CONTEXT of this menorah (cut onto a doorjamb of Catacomb 12 in Beit Shearim) suggests that graffiti were meant to somehow assist the deceased or sanctify the space. This and similar graffiti also show that—despite rabbinic disapproval of spending excessive time in impure places—some Jews spent protracted periods of time in cemeteries and burial caves, engaging spatially and corporeally with the dead and their resting places.