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Photo of Church of Dominus Flevit

Ossuary B with Floral Motif

First-century CE Jewish ossuaries at the Dominus Flevit church on the Mount of Olives. Close-up of the floral and geometric decoration engraved on one of the ossuaries. An ossuary is a stone box that would hold the bones of a deceased person after they had been in a tomb long enough that the flesh had decayed. In earlier Israelite and Judean burials (i.e., prior to the Hasmonean period) these bones would be collected in a common repository pit, usually under one of the burial benches in the tomb. During the Hellenistic and Roman periods this practice was replaced by secondary burial in individual ossuaries that would be placed in any available corners around the tomb.

Photo Ian W Scott.