Judahite Burial Practices and Beliefs About the Dead by Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

By Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

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D. Risdon's analysis of the burnt and calcined skulls and bones from the sixth-century BCE Tomb 1002 revealed that the individuals 'died in a catastrophe of a kind in which fires were involved'. Perhaps, as J. Starkey first suggested, these were victims of an Assyrian attack (Ussishkin 1982: 56). J. Sailer excavated 'cremation strata' throughout Mt Nebo UCV-20 and in one large area in Mt Nebo UCV-84 chamber 2 (Sailer 1966). At Jericho and Mt Nebo, either an unintentional tomb fire or spontaneous combustion could have occurred producing 'partially cremated' remains or 'cremation strata'.

One possible explanation for the occurrence of open cremation and um burials together is that urn burial was a form of secondary interment for cremated individuals who could not be buried immediately. 3 1. J. Abercrombie (1979: 33-34) details age and sex of the cremated individuals and the accompanying grave goods. 2. J. Abercrombie (1979: 42 n. 38) suggested that Tell el-Farah (S) Tomb 135 'might also be a pyre burial or at least related to pyre burials, since it lacked a cinerary urn'. 3. In the Bible certain sexual crimes were punishable by burning the individuals involved: Tamar was suspected of harlotry and so threatened (Gen.

Iron Age Burial Types from the Southern Levant 37 Secondary burial may also have been practiced. J. Abercrombie cited Lachish 223 as 'the most conclusive evidence in favor of fractional [secondary] burial'. The skeleton was missing arm and chest bones, and the skull had been placed in the pelvis (Abercrombie 1979: 41-42 n. 34). Excavation reports rarely stipulate minimum number of individuals. One exception is the twelfth- to middle-eleventh-century BCE Baqah Valley Cave A4, where 225 individuals were distinguished, the majority in secondary heaps.

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