A vast prehistoric necropolis some 4,200 years old has been found near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, proving for the first time that the city had existed and thrived in Canaanite times. The burial ground, found by a team of Italian and Palestinian archaeologists, covers 3 hectares of the site called Khalet al-Jam’a. It was discovered to have more than 100 tombs dating from around 2200 BCE to 650 BCE. Unfortunately, many of the 100-plus tombs have already been destroyed by modern construction, or looted in the past.
“The finds confirm that there was a Canaanite town in Bethlehem. This had have never been proven before,” Lorenzo Nigro, head of the excavation and professor at Sapienza University of Rome, told Haaretz. The site is located on the side of a hill, which often indicates that the hill opposite had been settled. (The hills around Jerusalem similarly abound with burials located to the north and west of the city.) Canaanite burial practices.