Archaeological Excavations of Ancient Burials

Burials are an integral part of human cultural heritage. Throughout history and most of prehistory, Eretz-Israel has been widely inhabited, naturally resulting in a large concentration of ancient graves. Often, these graves are damaged by infrastructure development throughout the country.

Ancient bones, discovered during development operations and archaeological excavations, are handled by IAA experts in the following manner:

Differentiating between animal and human bones.
Differentiating between bones from a gravesite, or haphazardly scattered bones, as of an individual buried under a building that collapsed.

Morphological analysis of ancient populations.
Analysis of age and sex of the deceased and bone pathologies .

Orderly scientific excavations and anthropological investigations are the sole means that enable to distinguish between ancient populations and their unique burial customs. Burials contain immense and vital information about ancient man and his customs.


Random discovery of burials is a daily occurrence. Ancient tombs are excavated annually by the IAA in rescue excavations. Data is collected, analyzed and published in excavation reports, as required by law. Salvage excavations rescue valuable information, as well as the bones themselves. It is utterly clear that without salvage excavations, ancient burials would be destroyed by development works and lost forever. 

The IAA, out of respect for the deceased and its sensitivity to public opinion, prepared detailed guidelines for its archaeologists who deal with osteological remains. The guidelines are strictly followed and remains are transferred to the Ministry of Religious Affairs for reburial. The IAA does not  initiate excavations at burial sites.

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