Rituals of death and burial appear in every known human society. Categorized by sociologists as “rites of passage,” these rituals “enable the individual to pass from one defined social position to another equally well-defined social position” (van Gennep, 1960, p. 3). In fact, death is the ultimate rite of passage since it assists with the very last step in the normal series of social transitions that occur over the course of a human life (i.e., birth, puberty, marriage, childbirth, death). Death ritual enables the final social transition from a well-defined position among the living to a new and equally well-defined position among the dead.

As such, death ritual serves a customary social function. But human behavior in death and burial can vary widely, even dramatically, across cultures. In some cases, death and burial are calm, quiet, and reflective, while in others they are raucous, rowdy, and even violent. No matter how startling or unusual they may appear, however, rituals of death and burial always give symbolic expression to basic life values in the culture where they appear, for “death throws into relief the most important cultural values by which people live” (Metcalf and Huntington, 1999, p. 25). Anthropologically, these rituals fight off the threat of death by drowning it beneath a flood of symbolic representations of life. For this reason, death ritual is characteristically replete with culturally specific symbolic representations of life. As Robert Hertz put it, in death and burial “the last word must be with life” (2006, p. 96).

These sociological and anthropological insights provide a theoretical context for interpreting the historical and archaeological evidence for death and burial in Hellenistic and Roman Palestine. During these historical periods, very significant cultural changes were taking place in Palestine as traditional local systems and norms engaged with newer Hellenistic/Roman patterns of social organization and behavior. New developments in death and burial in Hellenistic and Roman Palestine belong to this process of social and cultural change. In addition, interpretation of biblical texts is often dramatically enhanced by the contribution of anthropological and archaeological evidence. In the absence of archaeology, some biblical texts may remain virtually incomprehensible (e.g., Matt 8:21–22).

Local burial customs were well established in Palestine long before the arrival of the Greeks and Romans. Two characteristics of the traditional customs are significant for understanding changes during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. First, the dominant pattern, going back at least to the Chalcolithic Age, was burial by extended kin groups in underground chambers cut into bedrock. Referred to by archaeologists as “shaft tombs,” these burial chambers were entered through a long and narrow opening, or “shaft.” The interiors of shaft tombs were rough-hewn and undecorated. Second, the most frequent type of burial was secondary burial, that is, the reburial of the bones after the flesh of the body had decomposed. The specific forms of secondary burial varied over time: during the Bronze Age bones were piled together on one side of the burial chamber but later, during the Iron Age, bones were gathered into a repository carved out under a bench in the burial chamber. Whatever the particular variations might have been, however, local custom and tradition in Palestine had long regarded secondary burial as normal. The final destination of the dead was to lie in a heap of ancestral bones inside the extended kin group’s underground burial chamber.

Tombs and Graves in the Hellenistic Period.

In contrast to the local Palestinian tradition of secondary burial in underground chambers, in ancient Greece and Rome it was customary for wealthy and prominent families to build large and ornate tombs above ground along the roads leading into and out of their city. In this way the economic riches and social prestige of the families could be displayed and celebrated on a grand scale. Monumental tombs of this sort begin to appear in Palestine during the Hellenistic period. Several examples are found in Jerusalem, a city which experienced a particularly energetic encounter between Judaism and Hellenism during the last three centuries B.C.E. An illustrative example is found in the Kidron Valley, located immediately to the east of the Old City of Jerusalem. Here stand three monumental Hellenistic tombs that were once believed to have been the tombs of Absalom, Zechariah, and the Bene Hezir. But in fact they were the burial places for three highly prominent Jewish families in Hellenistic Jerusalem. Each tomb displays exterior architectural features and themes which are typical of Hellenistic tomb construction, including columns and friezes, as well as a prominent marker (or nephesh, in Hebrew) in the shape of a pyramid or tholos (dome). Another example of Hellenistic influence in Jerusalem is “Jason’s tomb,” located in the modern residential neighborhood of Rehavia in West Jerusalem. Identified by an inscription in its interior, this tomb is also built on a large scale, with an exterior pyramid, a column, and two courtyards.

New indications of Greek influence are also evident in the interior spaces of Hellenistic tombs in Palestine. Two new types of burial niche, both of Hellenistic origin, begin to appear in Palestine at this time, carved into the interior walls of tombs: (1) the arcosolium (pl. arcosolia), a wide, shallow, arch-shaped niche carved along the wall of the burial chamber, in which a body could be laid parallel to the wall, and (2) the loculus (pl. loculi), a long, narrow slot carved deep into the wall of the tomb, in which a body could be laid perpendicular to the wall of the tomb.

These niches, which are widely distributed around the Mediterranean world during the Hellenistic period, make their first appearance in Palestine during the Hellenistic period at Maresha, in the “painted tombs” discovered by Peters and Thiersch. They spread quickly throughout Palestine. Because an arcosolium niche covered considerably more wall space than a loculus niche, a burial chamber with arcosolia could typically contain only three or four such niches (i.e., one on each wall of the chamber). A loculus niche, by contrast, consumed far less wall space than an arcosolium, so a burial chamber with loculi carved into the walls might contain 12 or more (i.e., three or four on each wall). This difference helps to account for the fact that, although both kinds of niche were popular during the Hellenistic period, the loculus niche was by far the more common of the two. It also helps to account for the fact that arcosolium niches are more often found in larger tombs of wealthy families, who presumably could afford the multichambered tombs made necessary by the relative lack of economy in the use of arcosolia.

While many Hellenistic tombs include new features that indicate Greek cultural influence, other characteristics continue to follow traditional local patterns of tomb construction. In most cases, for example, the entrance to a tomb chamber is still quite small (ca. 1.6 × 2.6 ft [0.50 × 0.80 m]). As had been the case since the Bronze Age, the entry typically accommodated only one person at a time and could be covered with a stone slab. In addition, once inside the tomb, the interior space was usually a nearly square or slightly rectangular cave, approximately 9.8 to 13 ft (3–4 m) on a side, with a low shelf running along at least three of the sides. The typical height of the shelf which runs along three sides of a Hellenistic burial chamber was slightly lower than it was in the characteristic Iron-Age “bench” tomb. The bench in an Iron-Age tomb is typically about waist-high, but by the Hellenistic period it was about knee-high. For this reason, archaeologists

Death and Burial, Hellenistic and Roman Period, Palestine

Hellenistic tomb complex, “Absalom’s tomb,” Jerusalem. Baker Photo Archive

view larger image

generally refer to this feature in a Hellenistic tomb as a “shelf,” leaving the term “bench” to be used with reference to an Iron-Age tomb. As in earlier periods, most Hellenistic burial chambers have relatively low ceilings, usually not more than approximately 5 ft (1.5 m) high.

Burial in the Hellenistic Period.

According to traditional customs in Palestine, prompt burial of the dead was strongly preferred, before sunset on the day of death if at all possible. The notion of a deceased human body lying unburied under the sky was deeply disturbing to Jewish sensibilities. This cultural norm finds narrative expression in the apocryphal book of Tobit (written during the Hellenistic period), in which the title character assumes great personal risk in order to bury several unattended Jewish corpses. In the narrative, Tobit performs only the ritual of primary burial, digging graves for the deceased and depositing the bodies therein. Secondary burial is not mentioned. The book of Tobit is fictional, of course, but the story serves as a reminder that the realities of daily life and death in Hellenistic Palestine did not always allow for traditional practices of burial in underground burial chambers.

When circumstances did permit, however, it was expected that primary burial in an underground chamber would later be followed by secondary burial. As noted, during the Iron Age the most common form of secondary burial had been deposition of the bones into a repository located beneath one of the benches in the burial chamber. In these repositories, the individual identity of the deceased was effectively dissolved into the collective heap of bones. During the Hellenistic period the practice of secondary burial continued, but bones were no longer gathered into a repository under one of the benches. Instead, they were often transferred into an entirely separate chamber within the tomb, where they were piled in a collective heap. Archaeologists refer to these chambers for secondary burial as “charnel houses.” “Jason’s Tomb” in Jerusalem furnishes a fine example of this practice: the tomb contains two chambers, one with loculus niches for primary burial and the other a charnel house with no niches. Archaeological evidence showed that at primary burial bodies were laid inside loculus niches in the burial chamber and at secondary burial the bones were carried into the charnel house and piled together there. No primary burials were found in the charnel house, and no secondary burials were found in the burial chamber or in the loculus niches.

The evidence for death and burial in Hellenistic Palestine thus shows several changes and adaptations under Hellenistic influence. Yet the traditional milieu of an underground chamber for primary and secondary burial of an extended kinship group is still preserved. This evidence coheres with other literary and historical evidence for the engagement of Jews in Palestine with the cultural process of Hellenization. Members of the elite classes (especially in Jerusalem) readily accommodated themselves with Greek influences, often in ways that were highly visible to the public. Yet within the relative privacy of the family tomb, more traditional values seem to dominate.

Tombs and Graves in the Roman Period.

The arrival of the Roman Empire in Palestine significantly increased the pace and intensity of Jewish engagement with Hellenistic and Roman influence. The long-established preference for secondary burial in underground chambers by extended kin groups remained strong, but a new series of developments also appeared, including some innovations which were unprecedented, such as the ossuary, an individual container for secondary burial. In most cases these new developments reflect a process of negotiation with Romanization, including both accommodation and resistance.

Tombs continued to be located outside the perimeters of human habitation, and tomb entrances were, as before, small enough to be covered by a stone. Burial chambers were roughly square or rectangular, approximately 9.8 to 13 ft (3–4 m) on a side, with low ceilings. A low shelf, about knee-high, ran around the interior of the burial chamber; and some tombs included more than one burial chamber. Arcosolium and loculus niches were frequent, with loculi appearing more often than arcosolia. During the Early Roman period, however, a modification in the form of the arcosolium begins to appear. Some are now cut more deeply into the wall of the tomb, allowing more than one body to be laid therein. At Dominus Flevit, for example, an extensive complex of Early Roman Jewish tombs on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, many of the caves contain arcosolia that are cut deeply enough to hold as many as four bodies at the same time. In this way the arcosolium was rendered equally economical in terms of space as the loculus. Deeply cut arcosolia of this type remained popular, appearing, for example, in Middle and Late Roman tombs at Beth-Sheאarim in the Lower Galilee and at Beth-Guvrin/Eleutheropolis.

Monumental tombs for the wealthy are known during the Early Roman period in Jerusalem. An illustrative example is located in East Jerusalem on the Nablus Road. Mistakenly identified as the “tombs of the kings” mentioned in the books of Chronicles, this tomb likely belonged to the family of Queen Helena of Adiabene, a first-century C.E. proselyte to Judaism (Josephus, J.W. 5.55, 119). Built into the wall of an old quarry, with the quarry making up the tomb’s very large sunken forecourt (85 × 88.5 × 26 ft [26 × 27 × 8 m]), this tomb includes a facade with a relief in floral and geometric motifs. The shaft entrance to the tomb leads down into eight burial chambers, each with several arcosolia and/or loculi. A conspicuous feature is the disk-shaped stone which rolled across the entrance to close up the tomb. Only two such “rolling stones” are currently known in the archaeological record: the other is at the entrance to the so-called Herod family tomb, located in a park behind the King David Hotel in twenty-first-century West Jerusalem. The rarity of these “rolling stones” is significant to biblical studies since the Gospel narratives of Jesus’s burial seem to describe such a stone at the tomb in which he is buried. It is likely that these descriptive references are meant to dignify the circumstances of Jesus’s burial by associating it with an impression of wealth and prestige.

At this point it must be noted that the quality of work in Jewish tombs in Early Roman Palestine can vary dramatically. Some tombs are characterized by precise dimensions, squared corners, finished surfaces, and decorative friezes and carvings. In one chamber in the tombs at Akeldama (just southwest of the Old City of Jerusalem), panels in sunken relief ornamented the walls beneath neatly worked arcosolium niches and in the corners were carved representations of Doric columns. The entryway to another chamber was laid out in distyle in antis (“two-columned porch”) format, and the burial chamber itself featured a smooth, domed ceiling. Other neatly executed tombs from Early Roman Jerusalem include the “Tombs of the Kings” and the Sanhedria tombs. Certainly, the families who owned and used these impressive burial caves were among the higher socioeconomic class, for the construction of high-quality tombs required substantial resources. Most Jewish burial caves in this region and period, however, are not luxurious at all but roughly hewn, with irregular dimensions, unfinished surfaces, and an absence of decoration. It is not unusual, for example, for loculus niches to be so unevenly arranged and cut into the wall at such odd angles that one niche cuts into another. A poorly constructed tomb might at first appear to be evidence of a family’s lower social and economic status, but conclusions of this sort require careful review since rich families may have had the means to build a splendid tomb but simply chose to use their wealth in other ways. The “Caiaphas” tomb, for example, was very roughly hewn, although the “Caiaphas” ossuary was an impressive specimen. These data suggest that simple and straightforward deductions about wealth and class based solely upon the quality of funerary artifacts must be avoided.

Tomb 1 at Givאat ha-Mivtar near Jerusalem is broadly representative of typical Jewish tombs in the Early Roman period. Entry into this two-chambered tomb began with an external forecourt, one wall of which contained a small entryway, approximately 1.6 × 1.6 × 2.6 ft (0.5 × 0.5 × 0.8 m), leading into the first of two burial chambers. The outer face of the entryway was covered by a stone which had been worked to fit snugly into the opening. The narrow doorway to Tomb 1 at Givאat ha-Mivtar leads into the first of two burial chambers within the tomb itself. Each chamber is roughly equal in size, measuring approximately 9.8 ft (3 m) in length and width, with a height of about 3.3 ft (1 m). In the center of each chamber a depression was carved into the floor to a depth of 1.6 ft (0.5 m), most likely to facilitate the process of moving about and working within the tomb. Above the shelf, a total of 12 loculus niches were carved into the walls of the chambers, four in chamber A and eight in chamber B. Five of the niches were open, but seven of them were sealed, either by a flat slab of stone or by a pile of small stones.

The skeletal remains in Tomb 1 illustrate the general pattern of burial practices which was customary for Jewish kinship groups. A single skeleton, for example, was found in each of the loculus niches in the tomb. The bodies lay lengthwise in the niches, most of them head first so that the feet of each corpse lay closest to the open end of the niche. Niches were not, however, the only location in a tomb wherein the remains of the deceased might be laid at the time of primary burial. In many tombs skeletal remains are also found on the shelf.

Tomb 1 also featured secondary burial, in multiple forms. Eight ossuaries, for example, were found in various locations around Tomb 1, three of them together in one loculus; and each contained the bones of at least one person. One of the ossuaries was inscribed with the name Yehohanan and contained the bones of an adult male who had been crucified, along with the bones of a child. In addition, a small pit (approximately 3.3 × 3.3 × 1 ft [1 × 1 × 0.3 m]) was dug into the floor on the west side of chamber B, and this pit was found to contain the bones of a child.


An ossuary is a chest or box, usually made of stone but occasionally of clay or wood, for secondary burial. A typical ossuary is hollowed out from a single block of limestone, which is especially common in and around Jerusalem. The size is proportional to the large and long bones of the skeleton (i.e., skull and femur). An ossuary for an adult measures ca. 23.6 × 14 × 12 in (60 × 35 × 30 cm), with smaller measurements for the ossuaries of children. Ossuaries have removable lids, most of which are flat, although some are domed or gabled. Most are plain, but many ossuaries are decorated with motifs typical of Early Roman Jewish art, especially the six-petaled rosette, which was chip-carved into the face of the ossuary using a chisel and compass. Representations of Jewish religious themes are also frequent, including Torah shrines, palm branches, and menorot (sing. menorah). Decorations typically appear only on one of the long sides of the ossuary.

Many ossuaries are inscribed in Hebrew, Aramaic, and/or Greek. At present, slightly more than 40 percent of the known ossuary inscriptions are in Greek. These inscriptions are not the work of professional scribes or engravers. On the contrary, they are scrawled with charcoal or scratched with a sharp object, most likely by family members at the time of secondary burial. As a result, reading an ossuary inscription can be difficult, and misspellings are very common. Inscriptions can appear virtually anywhere on an ossuary: on the sides, on the ends, on the lid, or even along one of the inside edges. These inscriptions typically record only the name of the deceased, occasionally adding a nickname, patronymic, place of origin, or distinguishing fact about the deceased.

Osteological analysis shows that many ossuaries contain the bones of more than one individual, usually members of the same family group. The distribution of the skeletal remains is significantly influenced by gender. Adult females, for example, are more likely to be interred in an ossuary with an adult male than in an ossuary by themselves. Ossuaries containing the bones of both a male and a female are more likely to be inscribed with the name of the male than with the name of the female. The same patterns hold true for the skeletal remains of children. Adult males thus appear to be more socially individuated than adult females and children. These observations are consistent with the patrilineal, segmentary tribal kinship systems within Jewish society in Jerusalem during the Early Roman period.

Clay ossuaries had appeared in Palestine during the Chalcolithic period (4500–3400 B.C.E.), but limestone Jewish ossuaries were unknown before the Early Roman period. The reasons for their emergence at this time, and their concentration in the vicinity of Jerusalem, are uncertain. An earlier generation of scholars was convinced that Jewish secondary burial in ossuaries was associated with Pharisaic beliefs in bodily resurrection. In this view, bones gathered in an ossuary were purified from sin and prepared for the resurrection. Unfortunately, no Early Roman sources connect the use of ossuaries with belief in resurrection, and later rabbinic literary texts have been shown to be too unreliable to be regarded as uncorroborated evidence for practices in the Early Roman period. Another view is that ossuaries were motivated by purely practical concerns: they helped conserve space in the relatively cramped confines of an Early Roman Jewish family tomb. Yet, in most archaeological contexts, ossuaries are found stacked up on shelves or in niches, where they consume, rather than conserve, space. Still other scholars think that ossuaries may be modeled on Roman cremation urns. Perhaps, however, the physical similarities between ossuaries and Roman cremation urns are not especially strong. Another suggestion is that ossuaries may reflect the rising status of the individual in Early Roman Jewish society in and around Jerusalem. Unlike earlier forms of Jewish secondary burial, ossuaries preserved individual identity after death. They may have arisen from the cultural encounter between traditional Jewish practices of secondary burial and newer Hellenistic and Roman conceptions of the human person. At present, none of these theories commands broad scholarly support.

While sporadic use of ossuaries can be found in the Late Roman period (250–363 C.E.), their appearance in the archaeological record drops off precipitously in the early second century C.E. The most likely explanation for this rapid decline is the violence of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132–135 C.E.). The exclusion of Jews from the city of Jerusalem after the revolt seems to have effectively ended both the supply of and the demand for ossuaries. The stone-carving industry in Jerusalem, which had previously been producing ossuaries, collapsed.

Away from Jerusalem, other forms of secondary burial were more typical, including secondary burial in pits, niches, and even on the shelf or floor of the tomb chamber. Thus, while secondary burial was the prevalent pattern for Jewish burial in Early Roman Palestine, there was considerable variety in its practice: within the privacy of the family tomb, people did what was right in their own eyes.

Less frequent in the Early Roman period but increasingly popular in the Middle and Late Roman periods were primary burials in freestanding burial containers, such as sarcophagi or coffins. Sarcophagi (stone containers used for the primary burial of one body) are often richly ornamented and tend to be found more often in the tombs of the wealthy. Early Roman sarcophagi typically feature geometric and floral friezes carved into raised panels on their anterior faces. The sarcophagus attributed to Queen Helena of Adiabene, from the “Tomb of the Kings,” is a good example. Late Roman sarcophagi, by contrast, such as those found in the catacombs at Beth-Sheאarim, frequently feature pictorial representations of birds and other animals as well as mythological figures. A higher degree of accommodation to Romanization is strongly evident in these later specimens. Coffins, like sarcophagi, are freestanding and portable containers for the burial of one body but are made from lead or wood rather than stone. Wooden coffins, artfully constructed and ornamented, were found in the Early Roman Jewish necropolis at Jericho. In most cases, wooden burial containers are evident only in the metal nails and hinges they leave behind.

Individual graves, another departure from the general pattern of burial by extended kin groups, are also occasionally found in Roman Palestine. At Qumran and Beit Safafa, for example, individual graves from the Early Roman period have been found, made up of a trench, large enough to hold a single body, with a niche at the bottom for deposition of the body. Often, the niche was covered with stone slabs, over which dirt was piled. Since the cemetery at Qumran is entirely made up of trench graves, scholars speculate that these graves were associated with beliefs and practices of the Qumran sect.

Burial Practices in the Roman Period.

The traditional Palestinian preference for prompt burial continued throughout the Roman period. Stories from this time period depict burial this way. In Mark 5:38, funeral preparations for Jairus’s daughter begin right away, and in John 11 Lazarus is buried on his day of death. According to m. Sanh. 6:5, a corpse should be kept unburied overnight only on rare occasions.

Preparations typically began as soon as death was certain: the eyes were closed, and the corpse was washed, then wrapped and bound. Literary depictions often suggest that perfumes or ointments were used for this washing. The body was wrapped and bound in strips of cloth. John 11 has such preparations in view: Lazarus’s “hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth” (John 11:44). Thus prepared, the corpse was carried out in a procession toward the place of interment, accompanied by friends, neighbors, and relatives. Such processions are described in the New Testament (e.g., Luke 7:12) and in Josephus, who emphasizes the splendor of Herod’s funerary cortege (J.W. 1.671–673). Some Mishnaic texts suggest that processions occasionally halted in order to “make lamentation” for the dead (e.g., m. Meg. 4:3, m. B. Bat. 6:7). Unfortunately, the texts do not clarify the specific contours of the practice; and since neither narrative descriptions nor material remains survive, it is impossible to know precisely what sort of ritual activities might have been involved.

Jewish funeral processions made their way from the family home to the family tomb. Members of the immediate family placed the body in the tomb while friends and relatives waited outside. Upon arriving at the tomb, the procession stood by while members of the immediate family placed the body in the tomb. Personal effects of the deceased might be placed in the tomb alongside the body. An inkwell, for example, was said to have been buried along with Samuel the Small (Sem. 8:7), and the discovery of an inkwell in a tomb at Meiron provides material confirmation. Other personal items which sometimes appear are jewelry, combs, and sandals.

Some tombs include an area which appears to have been the setting for lamenting and/or eulogizing the deceased. Made up of either a circle of benches or a row (or rows) of seats, these “mourning enclosures” are usually situated in front of and around the entrance to the tomb. Some literary sources describe a ceremony in which friends and neighbors arranged themselves in rows in order to offer condolences to the bereaved, in a kind of receiving line (m. Ber. 3:2, m. Meg. 4:3, m. Sanh. 2:1, Sem. 10:9). The specific details of the ritual are not clear, and no doubt there were local variations; but the ceremony of primary burial seems to have often included spoken words in appreciation for the dead and in sympathy for the bereaved.

Death and Burial, Hellenistic and Roman Period, Palestine

Ossuary of Caiaphas. Kim Walton, courtesy of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

view larger image

After primary burial, the procession returned to the family home, where expressions of condolence continued. Rituals of death continued for several days thereafter. Literary sources, including John 11, agree that for the first seven days the immediate family remained at home in mourning. If mourners left the house during this time, it was presumed that they would go to the tomb. In John 11, Mary leaves the family home, and neighbors and friends assume “she is going to the tomb in order to grieve there” (John 11:31).

After seven days, most aspects of ordinary life resumed. The death of a parent was an exception: children mourned their parents for a full year, until the time of secondary burial. In a private ceremony, family members returned to the tomb, took the bones of the deceased from their resting place on the shelf or in a niche, and placed them in a niche, pit, or ossuary. The ossuary, which might be marked with the name of the deceased, was then placed either on the shelf, on the floor, or in a niche. When a loculus niche became filled with ossuaries—and some loculi have been found to contain as many as five or six—it could be sealed with a stone slab.

Archaeological evidence has been decisive in the interpretation of some New Testament texts about tombs, graves, death, and burial. In particular, the saying of Jesus in Matt 8:21–22 and Luke 9:59–60 appears to presuppose secondary burial: the would-be disciple asks for time to gather his father’s bones, but Jesus denies the request and requests that the son follow him immediately. Luke 11:47–48 and Matthew 23:27 most likely refer to the monumental Hellenistic tombs in the Kidron Valley. The Lazarus narrative in John 11 accurately represents customs of mourning, tomb construction, and grave wrappings.


The archaeological evidence for death and burial in Hellenistic and Roman Palestine reveals a long negotiation between residents of Palestine and the cultural processes of hellenization and Romanization. Consistently attracted by some aspects of these influences (e.g., tomb architecture, decoration, ossuaries), they nonetheless continued to prefer their ancestral practice of burial by extended kinship groups in rock-cut underground chambers. The intensity of their engagement with Romanization declines significantly after the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Secondary burial becomes less frequent, and the Late Roman period reflects a quieter accommodation to Romanization of their ultimate rite of passage.



  • Gennep, Arnold van. The Rites of Passage. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1960.
  • Hachlili, Rachel. Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices, and Rites in the Second Temple Period. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005.
  • Hertz, Robert. Death and the Right Hand. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • McCane, Byron R. Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus. New York: Trinity Press International, 2003.
  • Metcalf, Peter, and Richard Huntington. Celebrations of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual. 2d ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Peters, John P., and Hermann Thiersch. Painted Tombs in the Necropolis of Marissa (Maresha). Edited by Stanley A. Cook. London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1905.
  • Tzaferis, Vasilios. “Jewish Tombs at and near Givאat ha-Mivtar Jerusalem.” Israel Exploration Journal 20 (1970): 18–32.

Byron R. McCane