Sunday, March 16, 2014

Capernaum- Underground Tomb

A recent discovery in the Capernaum hill country
 has been labeled as "St. Matthew's Tomb".
It is so recent, it is not in tour books,
 or located with a web search.

There are variant stories surrounding 
most of the burial places of the Apostles.
Many relying on oral tradition, 
rather than actual identifiable proof.

The significance of the site highlights the beautiful
 ARCH design that places it in Roman- Herodian times.
That is one of the gifts of architecture from Roman Culture.

 Magnificent stone carving and craftsmanship

Early Jewish burial tradition was to place the body
 on a stone burial bench (arcosolium) for a year.
Most burial sites were multiple use, 
and after a year,
 the family would collect the bones 
and place them in a family ossuary box.
This site has multiple stone sarcophagus with lids.
 Though the exact owner of the burial site
 may not be known for sure,
 it is a great example of carving
 that would have been costly to order
 as a family burial site. 
So, a site like this would have been held
 by wealthy owners,
 as most bodies were buried in simple wood coffins.

What we know about ossuaries is that they
 were made of
 carved material, most commonly limestone,
and also from imported hard wood. 
An Ossuary cost about a day's wages,
 in the case of a simple, undecorated limestone box. 
But a decorated stone ossuary would cost double that, 
and a more expensive cedar wood chest
 would be triple that price.
Since wood decays away, 
archeologists have found
 very few remnants of cedar ossuaries.

 We dropped into this opening in the earth
 and found the burial site below.  
You just don't know what you will find
 in the country side in Israel.
 Ancient stone carvings.
A piece of unknown history.
But, in these Lenten day reflections-
there is certainly the vision of hope,
that our graves do not Hold us Hostage,

because of Jesus we do have
eternal Hope.

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