Vatican City, 20 December, 2022 / 8:07 pm (ACI Africa).
A team of archaeologists has unearthed artifacts from an ancient Jewish burial cave associated with Salome, who according to some Christian traditions was a midwife at the Nativity of Jesus.
The cave is the site of a centuries-old Christian pilgrimage destination located in the Lachish region in central Israel, the Times of Israel reported Tuesday. Looters first happened upon the elaborate cave in 1982 before it was formally excavated in 1984. Now it’s being examined once again, and the team of researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is preparing to open it to the public.
“We believe that pilgrims would come here, rent an oil lamp, perform their prayers inside, and go on their way,” IAA archaeologist Zvi Firer said, according to the Times. “It’s like today when you go to the grave of a revered rabbi and light a candle there.”
The burial cave became a pilgrimage destination after local Christians identified it as Salome’s burial place in the Byzantine era, Firer said.
Most recently, archaeologists have discovered a courtyard at the cave’s entrance spanning almost 4,000 square feet, the Times reported. It features detailed stone carvings, high arches, a mosaic floor, and the remains of a shop where pilgrims may have rented oil lamps.