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1,800-Year-Old Painted Tomb Discovered in Jordan

Friday, September 28, 2018

Jordan Bayt Ras StonecuttersBAYT RAS, JORDAN—According to a CNRS News report, an international team of archaeologists has excavated a tomb dating to the second-century A.D. in Jordan at the ancient site of Capitolias. Its walls are decorated with more than 250 figures of humans, animals, and gods, as well as a large painting illustrating the construction of a rampart along with 60 inscriptions describing what the figures in the painting were doing. In its entirety, the artwork is thought to describe the founding of the city. Jean-Baptiste Yon of the History and Sources of Ancient Worlds Laboratory (HiSoMA) said the captions, written in Aramaic with Greek letters, resemble the speech bubbles in modern comics. “These teeming figures compose a narrative that is arranged on either side of a central painting, which represents a sacrifice offered by an officiant to the tutelary deities of Capitolias and Caesarea Maritima, the provincial capital of Judaea,” said HiSoMA’s Julien Aliquot. The person buried in the tomb may have officiated at a similar sacrifice when the city was founded, explained Pierre-Louis Gatier, also a member of the HiSoMA research team. “His name has not yet been identified, although it could be engraved on the lintel of the door, which has not yet been cleared,” he said. The other images show peasants and oxen gathering fruit and tending grapevines, woodcutters chopping down trees with the help of the gods, and stone cutters and architects transporting materials on camels and donkeys at a construction site. To read about surveys of the Jebel Qurma region of northeast Jordan finding evidence of human habitation dating back 4,300 years, go to “Desert Life.”

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