Archaeologists have unearthed the largest ancient cemetery ever discovered in Gaza, revealing a site steeped in history dating back around 2,000 years to the Roman era. Palestinian workers, engaged in a housing project in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, stumbled upon dozens of graves, including two rare lead sarcophagi, highlighting the rich historical tapestry of the region.
As noted by AP in their report on this discovery, Gaza, a coastal enclave home to approximately 2.3 million people, boasts a rich history owing to its strategic position on ancient trade routes between Egypt and the Levant. However, numerous factors, including a 16-year rule by Hamas, Israeli occupation, and rapid urbanisation, threaten its many archaeological treasures.
The discovery of 60 graves at the site was heralded as a significant find by archaeologists, a number which has since swelled to 135. The rarity of lead coffins has led Palestinian archaeologists to surmise that the interred were likely individuals of higher social standing.
In addition to the sarcophagi, archaeologists have excavated human skeletons, which have been sent for further analysis. This discovery underscores the region’s historical importance and raises concerns about the preservation of Gaza’s endangered archaeological heritage.