Human burials were found in three discrete areas of the monastic
church: the crypt, the haikal, and a single burial at the
entrance of the church.
A subsurface crypt was discovered during the 1998 excavation season. It contained
a single arcosolium on the north wall and a single arcosolium on the south wall. The
crypt is located immediately east of the Beth Kadeshy, against the south
wall of the monastery church. The crypt was excavated by James Walker.
Two adult male skulls and
associated long bones were discovered in the south arcosolium of the crypt. The skulls are
intentionally clustered in the east end of the arcosolium and the long bones are
crossed. A bone collagen sample from the long bones was radiocarbon dated to
AD 645 - 700. The poor condition of the bone may be related to both the
age of the burial and to the fact that the bodies had been interred in
earth graves, then reburied in the arcosolium at a later date.
A small glass vial, either an ampulla of holy oil or a container for a liquid relic (such as blood or tears),
was discovered in the arcosolium.
The final use of the monastery was as the place of burial for a
half dozen men who were interred in the haikal and baptistery
of the monastery church.
Late Phase (ca. AD 1400) burial being excavated in the haikal and baptistery
of the monastery church.
Our initial assumption, that these were Ottoman Period Bedouin
burials, was called into question when our physical anthropologist
(Helen Cho from University of Missouri at Columbia) examined one
of the burials associated with a clay oil lamp (burial locus 937036
was in the baptistery).
Radiocarbon dating of a sample of human bone from burial locus
937036 has yielded a calibrated radiocarbon date of AD 1410 +/-70.
The osteological analysis, associated artifact, and radiocarbon
date identify the burials in the baptistery and haikal as
the last population of monks who stayed at the monastery during
the dark days of the Mongol invasions.
Upper rim of the grave as discovered during shovel skimming. The entire fill was
carefully excavated by trowel and all of the soil deposits were sifted.
The grave, probably of an Abbot, was located at the entrance of
the monastery. An analogy for this burial can be found in the modern city of Hasake where
the space near the entrance of the city's cathedral is reserved for the
graves of Archbishops.
The grave was empty of human bones but contained fragments of a broken
headstone and all the pieces of a footstone. Detailed discussions of
these two important artifacts can be found in the
Area 9 artifact webpage. The damaged headstone, damaged footstone,
and absence of human bones indicate that the grave was robbed in antiquity.
Last updated 24 June 2005.
Webpage migrated 1 April 2008