Supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs    
Necropolis of Khalet al-Jam'a
History of Khalet al-Jam'a

The site of Khalet al-Jam'a (31°40'54.34''N 35°12'38.25''E) lays 2.2 Km south-east from the center of Bethlehem, on the south-eastern slope of the hill of Hindaza, where a large area was used as cemetery in pre-classical antiquity. The geomorphology is characterized by a gently emerging limestone bedrock that shelves from a maximum elevation of around 700 m a.s.l., on the hill top, to the 660 m contour line on a central terrace on the hill flanks overlooking Wadi Artas.

In Spring 2013, during works for the construction of an industrial park promoted and developed by a French-Palestinian partnership, a bulldozer accidentally exposed a rock-cut tomb. The Palestinian Tourist Police, having intercepted some items, promptly informed the MOTA-DACH Office of Bethlehem which identified the plundered tombs, and, in Spring 2014, carried out a salvage excavation in order to survey the tombs and recover their fittings. In the meantime, after several negotiations with the construction firm, building activities were stopped in the still preserved western part of the necropolis. In Spring 2015, the MOTA-DACH and Sapienza University of Rome formed a joint team1 to carry on the systematic exploration of the necropolis and to rescue as much as possible what was still preserved on the site. In May, the necropolis area was completely surveyed. Excavated and looted tombs were documented, their funerary furnishings listed and recorded. Human remains and other finds underwent a preliminary study and sampling, which prepare future more accurate investigations.

1The joint team was composed as follows. MOTA-DACH: Dr. Mohammed Ghayyada, responsible for the Bethlehem district (presently carrying on a PhD on the Khalet al-Jam'a MB cemetery in Sapienza University); Dr. Wael Hamamreh, and Mr. Ayman al-Rjoob; Sapienza University: Prof. Lorenzo Nigro, director; Dr. Daria Montanari, field responsible; Mrs. Alessandra Guari, human remains and object draftsperson, Mrs. Maria Tamburrini, surveyor and pottery draftsperson, and Federico Cappella, photographer and GPS technician.