Tomb of the Kings in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The resting place of an ancient queen and her sons in Jerusalem will soon be open to the public.
Helena, who was queen of the ancient kingdom of Adiabene (in modern-day Iraq), and her sons were buried in a site – at the junction of Nablus Road and Salah Ad-Din Street – that had been turned over to the French government.
French authorities announced on Wednesday that the site should be open to the public, while Foreign Minister Israel Katz lauded their decision.
The site is considered to be “further evidence of the deep and multigenerational connection between the people of Israel and its eternal capital of Jerusalem,” Katz said.
The people of the ancient kingdom of Adiabene had converted to Judasim in the first century CE, while Queen Helena moved to Jerusalem to build palaces for herself and her sons, Izates bar Monobaz and Monobaz II.
The burial site, locally called the Tombs of the Kings, was long thought to be the resting place for figures from the Talmud by Jewish residents of the city.
French archaeologist Louis Félicien de Saulcy, who studied the site in 1863, thought he found the burials grounds of the House of David.
The Jewish community, outraged by de Saulcy’s removal of human remains which is against Jewish religious law, demanded he stop his work.
The French archaeologist eventually did so, but not before he made sure the discovered sarcophagi and other findings would be shipped to Paris, where today they are preserved at the Louvre.
To prevent further damages, the site was bought by the French-Jewish family of Pereire and was given to the government of France on the condition it would keep the site for the benefit of the Jewish people.
Queen Helena’s burial grounds can be accessed by a metal door at the junction of Nablus and Salah Ad-Din, with an entry fee of NIS 3.
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