The grave (length of pit c. 2 m, depth c. 1.5 m; Fig. 1) was hewn c. 1 m below the surface in limestone bedrock. The pit narrows from 0.65 m to 0.50 m at a depth of 0.75 m below the surface, forming two kinds of shelves on both sides of the grave. Flat narrow covering stones were placed on the shelves, and a layer of small stones and soil accumulated on the shelves to a depth of c. 0.1 m below the bedrock surface (Fig. 2). Above the covering was topsoil devoid of datable finds other than two abraded and ribbed body fragments from the Roman and Byzantine periods.
A skeleton in anatomical articulation, attesting to a primary burial, was found on the floor of the grave. The interred individual was in a supine position, in a general east–west direction, with the head in the east and the arms alongside the body. Parts of the skull had crumbled because of stone and earth that collapsed on the upper portion of the skeleton. The epiphyses in the long bones had fused, indicating an individual 19 years of age or older (Johnston and Zimmer 1989
). The epiphyseal ring in the vertebrae were fused, but there were no osteophytes, which indicate an individual 20–60 years of age. Abraded incisors and an eyetooth showing a dentine cup, and premolars and a first molarexhibiting erosion to the point of forming a dentine cup in one of the cusps were identified in a fragment of the mandibular and maxilla bones. The individual’s age is estimated to be 30–40 years of age based on the extent of the dental erosion (Hillson 1986
:176–201). The angle of the sciatic notch in the pelvic bones is relatively narrow, morphology characteristic of a male individual. The vertical diameter of the proximal head of the femur is c. 5.2 cm, a typical measurement for a male (Bass 1987
:151). The diagonal length of the bone is 49.8 cm, a measurement characteristic of an individual 1.86 m tall (Feldesman, Kleckner and Lundy 1990
This is apparently the skeleton of a man who died during the fourth decade of his life. Apart from the skeleton, the tomb was devoid of finds. The tomb was sealed upon completion of the documentation and was not damaged by the continuation of construction work there. The bones of the deceased were left in place.
The absence of any finds with the deceased, in contrast to the wealth of offerings found in other tombs in Gush H
alav, as well as the relatively simple style of this grave versus the lead coffins, stone sarcophagi, loculi
caves, plastered burial chambers and the mausoleum exposed nearby (Makholy 1938
; Makholy 1942
; Vito and Edelstein 1974
), is sufficient to indicate the status of the deceased and those who buried him (Binford 1971
). The circumstances and reasons leading to this ‘humble’ burial are unknown. However, the documentation of the grave shows that ordinary people lived alongside the affluent inhabitants of Gush H
alav who were interred in magnificent burial structures (Vito and Edelstein 1974