The excavations in the Tell itself were so unsatis-
factory that there was no object in prolonging
them ; I therefore moved out to the desert, a mile
farther, in the hope of finding the necropolis.
Just on the verge of the desert are two villages
inhabited by Bedouins. The ground is flat, or
slightly undulating, and the bed of the desert
consists of a soft laminiferous stone very easy to
cut. I here discovered a necropolis of late epoch.
The whole ground on which the villages are built,
covering a space of more than half a mile in length,
and several hundred yards in breadth, is in fact
undermined with tombs, which, as usual, have
been rifled in ancient times. On the northern
side, the rock being of a better quality, the tombs
have been cut more carefully and are in a better
state of preservation. They are excavated more
or less on the same plan as the typical example in
Mr. Griffith's plate (PI. XVI.). There does not
seem to have been any construction above ground.
Three or four steps lead to a small door giving
access to a central chamber, in the sides of which
open horizontal niches of the size of a human body.
The niches were for the most part empty; in a few
instances, however, we found the body in situ,
without ornament and showing no mummification.
Under the head, there was always a burnt brick for
a pillow. Wherever the stone is good enough,
stairs and doors are well cut; but where it is too
soft, there is only a slope leading down to the
entrance. The door was originally closed by a lime-
stone slab, and the tomb contained stelae of the
same material, of which we found a few. All had
probably been rifled for the sake of the limestone,
which is invariably carried away by the fellaheen
when there are no quarries in the neighbourhood.
The entrances to the tombs were afterwards filled
up with sand and blocks of basalt.
The plan and arrangement of these tombs re-
semble strongly those found outside of Egypt
in Phoenicia and Palestine. They are similar
to some in the necropolis of Amrith, in Phoenicia,
and to certain Carthaginian tombs.1 They are in
fact the favourite type of the Jewish tomb in many
parts of Judaea,2 and are known by the French name
given to them by the eminent archaeologist De
Saulcy, as fours a cercueils. This type of burial is
described in the Talmud in the book called Baba
Bathra, due to the Babbi Maimonides. The niches
are called in Hebrew Dp*0.3 Thus I had some
a priori reason for conjecturing that I had found
a Jewish necropolis. We discovered a few tablets
which yet remained in some of the tombs, and
the names inscribed on these stelae confirmed me
in this opinion. I removed all these relics, and
they are now deposited in the Boolak Museum
(Plates III. and IV.).
These tablets strikingly resemble some which
were found in the necropolis of Sidon,4 and
are published by Mr. Renan. The architectural
ornaments in relievo are the same ; the flat surface
on which the inscription is engraved having been
cut out. It is not only in the general appearance
of the tablets, but also in the text of the inscrip-
tions that this likeness is observable. The
deceased is addressed in the vocative, with the
word xaW£> famveH- The most frequent epithet
1 Perrot et Cliipiez, "Hist, de l'Art," vol. iii. pp. 148
2 Perrot et Chipiez, vol. iv. p. 359, quoting the leading
authorities of the Palestine Exploration Fund,
3 "Nicolai de Sepuleris Ebraeorum," p. 174, et ff.
"Garrueci Cimetero degli antiehi Ebrei," p. 13.
4 Eenan, "Expedition de Phenicie," pi. XL1IL, et p. 380