New artefacts in the Cave of Salome, nurse to Jesus

PHOTO: New artefacts in the Cave of Salome lend credence to its biblical claim. (via Nation)

New light has been shed on just how long a cave in Israel has been held as a religious holy site. The cave is believed to be the burial place of Salome, the apocryphal nurse to the newborn baby Jesus. After a recent excavation, new evidence has reinforced the long-held belief that the biblical figure is in fact buried there.

Excavations have shown that the cave site holds a traditional tomb of an important Jewish person. But freshly unearthed artefacts show that the tomb was also the site of Christian pilgrimage, suggesting the Jesus link. The cave is 2,000 years old, and the restoration crew has been working to allow public access to the 350 square metre space inside.

The forecourt of the team inside the cave houses mosaic floors and stone slabs indicative of an ancient burial for a prominent Jew, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. But decorated oil lamps and inscriptions in Arabic and other languages suggest that the site was a host of Christian pilgrims at least through the 9th century after Muslims overtook the region.

The IAA said that previous excavations confirmed that it was a significant Jewish burial site, but the Christian ties were a new revelation.

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“The surprise was the adaptation of the cave into a Christian chapel. Judging by the crosses and the dozens of inscriptions engraved on the cave walls in the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the chapel was dedicated to the sacred Salome.”

The cave has been known for generations as the Cave of Salome suggesting an oral history persisted, even if an official record did not yet exist and artefacts did not yet give credence to the purported historical significance of the cave. It’s located about 35 kilometres southwest of Jerusalem.

Salome was described in the Book of James, part of early Christian writings that were not included in the Bible. A story in that book recounts Salome doubting the virgin birth and stricken in the arm. When she held the baby Jesus, she proclaimed him a great King born unto Israel and her arm was cured.

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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