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The 2007 season of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon unearthed a remarkable intramural infant jar burial, bearing roughly incised images on both sides. While a number of intramural infant burials have been recovered from late twelfth–eleventh century levels at the site, this jar is the first burial to reveal anything about the funerary beliefs and rituals that might be associated with such practices. The iconography itself is unique within the Philistine milieu, as well as within the broader context of Syro-Palestinian funerary imagery, instead echoing Egyptian funerary motifs. After a brief discussion of the jar and its archaeological context we offer an interpretation of the burial jar’s iconography and explore its possible relationship to Egyptian funerary ritual.


Originally published in Israel Exploration Journal 61 (1) 2011, 32-53.