In a remarkable archaeological breakthrough, four Roman tombs dating back 2,000 years have been unearthed in the besieged Gaza Strip, as confirmed by a Palestinian archaeologist on Saturday.
Fadel Al-Otol, the archaeologist leading this remarkable discovery, expressed his frustration over the limited resources that had hindered the excavation efforts within the territory.
Al-Otol revealed, “With the revelation of these four tombs, the total count of tombs within this Roman cemetery, spanning from the first century BC to the second century AD, has now reached an astonishing 134 tombs.”
This discovery marks a historic moment as it constitutes the first fully revealed Roman necropolis in Gaza, a fact confirmed by Al-Otol in a conversation with AFP.
The resting places of these ancient Roman individuals have provided intriguing artifacts such as fragments of pottery and metal objects used in funeral ceremonies, offering valuable insights into the customs of the time.
The cemetery’s uniqueness lies in its pyramid-shaped tombs. A dedicated team of technicians, under Al-Otol’s guidance, has been meticulously restoring these historical structures using rudimentary tools.
Notably, two lead coffins have been recently unearthed at the site, one adorned with intricate clusters of grapes and the other featuring dolphins gracefully swimming in water. Al-Otol expressed his disappointment over the limited financial resources available for this ambitious excavation and restoration work.
Funding for this groundbreaking endeavor has been provided by the British Council’s Fund for the Protection of Culture, underscoring the international importance of preserving this rich historical heritage.
It is essential to recognize that the impoverished Gaza Strip, home to approximately 2.3 million Palestinians, remains under strict land, air, and sea blockades imposed primarily by Israel. Israel’s defense ministry controls all crossings, with the exception of Rafah, which is administered by Egypt.
Since 2007, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has been the governing authority in this challenging and historically significant territory. The recent discovery of these Roman tombs offers a poignant reminder of the enduring historical treasures found amidst the ongoing challenges faced by Gaza and its people.