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September 26, 2017 11:06 am

Decapitated Toads Found in 4,000-Year-Old Canaanite Jug

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David Tanami, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist, works in the narrow tomb opening to bring out the jar. Photo: Shua Kisilevitz / IAA.

JNS.org – Archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) made a surprising finding — decapitated toads — within a nearly 4,000-year-old jug dating to the Canaanite period, during a recent dig outside of Jerusalem.

The dig’s site, located near the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, shed light on the burial customs in the Canaanite period during the Middle Bronze Age. During excavations in the past few years, archaeologists have uncovered two settlement sites, two temples and a number of cemeteries.

“At that time, it was customary to bury the dead with offerings that constituted a kind of ‘burial kit,’ which, it was believed, would serve the deceased in the afterworld,” said Shua Kisilevitz and Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, the excavation directors for the IAA.

“When we removed the stone that blocked the tomb opening, we were excited to discover intact bowls and jars. In one of the jars, to our surprise, we found a heap of small bones,” the archaeologists explained. The bones were that of at least nine toads, all of which had been decapitated.

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“For an archaeologist, finding tombs that were intentionally sealed in antiquity is a priceless treasure, because they are a time capsule that allows us to encounter objects almost just as they were originally left,” Kisilevitz and Turgeman-Yaffe said.

Found along with the toads were date palms and myrtle bushes, which do not normally inhabit the area and were likely planted intentionally as part of an orchard where funeral rituals were held and offerings, such as the headless frogs, were made for the dead.

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