By Elizabeth Bloch-Smith
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Additional info for Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs About the Dead (JSOT-ASOR Monograph Series 7)
The Deir el-Balah burials with women and children may have been the burials of Egyptian administrative or military personnel with their family members. Deir el-Balah has thus far yielded a single sarcophagus made of local limestone. Unfortunately, the head end of the lid was broken away. This unique find was devoid of contents, but 'Egyptian type sherds' and scattered bones lay nearby. Like the other coffins from this site, it may date from the end of the Late Bronze Age. In a Middle Bronze II example from Tell ed-Daba Stratum F, a Canaanite in a contracted position equipped with a Syro-Palestinian battle axe and a bronze dagger had been buried in a limestone coffin.
Ussishkin distinguished three distinct types of ninth- to late eighth-century BCE rock-cut tombs in the Silwan cemetery: tombs with gabled ceilings, tombs with flat ceilings, and above-ground monolithic tombs with pyramid-shaped roofs. Flat-ceiling tombs were the norm throughout Judah. Other gabled-ceiling tombs have thus far been found in another section of the Kidron Valley cliffs and at Akhzib. The monolithic tombs (3, 28, 34, 35) remain unique. These consisted of a cube-shaped tomb carved out from the bedrock on three or four sides.
Thirteenth- and twelfth-century BCE examples were excavated at the coastal and lowland sites of Azor, Deir el-Balah, Tell el-Farah (S), Tell es-Saidiyeh and Tell Zeror (fig. 16). Cist tombs were built throughout the Iron Age, but they exhibited their greatest popularity in the twelfth and eleventh centuries BCE and decreased in use through the succeeding centuries (figs. 17, 18). In some cases simple graves may have sufficed as a simplified version of a cist tomb. The two types occurred together at Akhzib, Azor, Deir el-Balah and Tell es-Saidiyeh.
Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs About the Dead (JSOT-ASOR Monograph Series 7) by Elizabeth Bloch-Smith