4,000-Year-Old Tombs Found Near Jerusalem Mall

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Avni says the scarabs might have arrived in Jerusalem via commercial exchanges or with Canaanite tourists returning from Egypt.

"It's not uncommon here to find all kinds of ornamentation brought from outside the region," he said.

Other objects found at the site include metal weapons, tools, and jewelry as well as fully preserved earthenware vessels.

Burial Rituals

Sheep and goat bones found in the cemetery are believed to have been used in burial rituals.

The animal remains and foodstuffs, likely stored in earthenware containers, are known as "food for the dead" and were meant to serve the deceased after their passing.

"This is another piece in the puzzle," Avni said. "The Emek Refaim area was extensively inhabited during this time.

"We have evidence from the Mount of Olives area of similar tombs, and the city proper—the City of David site—was inhabited. [Bayit Vagan] was part of the peripheral network around Jerusalem."

Archaeologists say the site could be even larger than what has been uncovered so far.

But no final decision has been made on how to handle the site once the excavations ar complete. Artifacts will likely be moved to the Israel Museum, Avni says, and the site itself would probably be reburied.

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