Excavations near Ashkelon.
(photo credit: Antiquities Authority)
The ancient bones uncovered in digs next to the hotly-contested Andromeda Hill
site in Jaffa are the remains of pagans and not Jews, the Antiquities Authority
announced on Sunday.
Experts say Zechariah's tomb was found in a new excavations
The haredi organization “Atra Kadisha” on Sunday
refuted the findings and vowed to hold a funeral for the bones on Monday in
The site has been the location of heated protests over the past
year by haredi demonstrators who have clashed with police over what they say is
the desecration of Jewish graves being carried out by the archaeological digs at
the site. The digs began after work to build the luxury “Eden Hotel” uncovered
the ancient graves. Over the course of 2010, excavations were carried out
by Meir Edri from the Israel Archaeology Institute. The digs uncovered a wide
variety of graves, and among many of them were found large numbers of pig
bones. The burial of pig remains within human graves was a common
practice among ancient pagans in what is today Israel.
Authority also mentioned on Sunday that digs that took place at Andromeda from
1993 to 1994 revealed graves from between the Persian and Byzantine periods.
Most of the graves were dug into the sandstone and among them was discovered a
jar containing a fetus dating to the 1800-2000 BCE, a find that the Antiquities
Authority says definitively proves that there was a pagan population that lived
in the area.
Last June, five police officers were injured during a
protest staged by hundreds of haredim against the digs at Andromeda Hill. The
police were hurt when they were hit by rocks thrown by the
The Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada
announced on Sunday that it would hold protests in New York against the
Andromeda hill digs and construction work on the luxury project. One protest
will be outside of the Israeli consulate and the other outside the Manhattan
home of developer Aby Rosen, who is building the Eden Hotel.
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