Construction workers discover 2,000-year-old Roman cemetery in Gaza

(ORDO NEWS) — A 2,000-year-old Roman cemetery containing at least 20 ornate graves has been discovered near the coastline in northern Gaza, and the Ministry of Antiquities has called it the most important local discovery in a decade.

Gaza is rich in antiquities as it was an important trading place for many civilizations, from the ancient Egyptians and the Philistines described in the Bible, to the Roman Empire and the Crusades.

Among the ruins discovered here are the remains of the siege of Alexander the Great, as well as the Mongol invasion.

To date, 20 Roman graves have been discovered, and the team plans to find 80 in total in the 50-square-meter cemetery. Only two graves have been opened, one of which contained skeletal remains and several earthenware jars.

According to Jamal Abu Rida, director general of the Gaza Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, due to the shape of the graves and relatively rich decorations, they most likely belonged to “dignitaries” in the Roman Empire in the first century.

According to him, unlike Muslim graves of later periods, which are located from north to south, Roman graves lie from east to west.

“We have made several discoveries in the past, this is the most important archaeological discovery in the last 10 years,” Abu Rida said.

The area is closed to journalists and the public until the site is organized and made safe for visitors, the ministry said.

The site, which is under the supervision of a French team of experts, was discovered by a construction crew working on an Egyptian-funded housing project. When they came across some large ancient graveyard bricks, they stopped work and called in archaeologists.

Gaza is controlled by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which has waged four wars with Israel since 2008.

The conflict has devastated the local economy, and authorities routinely enlist international teams to help excavate and preserve archaeological finds, Abu Rida said.

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