Jar of toads found in a 4000-year-old tomb

Archaeologists unearthed a peculiar pottery vessel filled with bones of toads within a 4000-years-old Canaanite burial just outside Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo, Israel.

Archaeologists working in a tomb to unearth the jar in a narrow hole (by Shua Kisilevitz & Israel Antiquities Authority)

Salvage excavations undertaken near Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo lead to a discovery of a 4000-year-old Canaanite burial containing a set of intact jars and their contents dating back to the Middle Bronze period. One of the jars contained an afterlife food of nine decapitated toads. According to archaeologists offerings in burials are typical of the Bronze Age but toad finds are said to have been so far found only at one place – Wadi Ara, dating back to Late Bronze Age. Archaeologists state that this rare discovery of toad bones, found in a jar placed in one of 67 man-made shaft tombs in a Middle Bronze cemetery located between the Zoo and a nearby shopping mall, indicates it was part of the local settlers’ diet.

Ancient jar filled with remains of toads (by Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe & Israel Antiquities Authority)

The vessel was found in a 1-to-1.5 meter long shaft carved out of the hard limestone, which led to a small manmade cave of approximately 1.2-meter diameter and with a slight 80 centimetre height. The cave contained a partial skeleton, which appeared to have been laid out in foetal position with his skull placed on a demarcated headrest. side from the toad jar, other intact pottery vessels were unearthed, upon which was discovered pollen from date palms and myrtle bushes, which are not indigenous to Jerusalem. Other animals found in Middle Bronze Age graves placed as afterlife food for the deceased consist of remains of sheep, goats, oxen and even gazelles.

(after The Times of Israel, Israel Antiquities Authority, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe & Shua Kisilevitz)

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