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4,000-year-old remains of decapitated toads discovered in Jerusalem tomb

David Tanami, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, works his way into the narrow tomb opening to bring out the jar
Shua Kisilevitz, Israel Antiquities Authority
It is thought that the remains were part of a burial offering for the deceased to use in the afterworld

Israel’s Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday that the remains of at least nine decapitated toads had been found in a vessel inside a 4,000 year old tomb in Jerusalem.

It is thought that the remains were part of a burial offering for the deceased to use in the afterworld.

Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to excavation directors Shua Kisilevitz and Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, finding intentionally sealed tombs are a “priceless treasure” explaining that they act as a kind of time capsule, shedding light on funerary customs of the time.

Shua Kisilevitz, Israel Antiquities Authority

The archaeological dig and subsequent analysis of the finds was part of a joint project between the IAA, Tel Aviv’s Institute of Archaeology and Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa and the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew Union College.

Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Dr. Dafna Langgut of Tel Aviv University explained that before the vessels were placed in the tomb they appear to have been in contact with plants that were not native to the region, suggesting that they may have been planted intentionally in the area specifically for the carrying out of funeral rituals.

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