Monday, July 6, 2015

Ancient Jewish necropolis named World Heritage Site

UNESCO adds Beit She’arim’s Roman-era catacombs, where author of Mishnah is buried, to list of protected locales

By Stuart Winer for The Times of Israel

A top UN cultural organization on Sunday declared a 2nd century CE Jewish burial complex at Beit She’arim in northern Israel a World Heritage Site.

A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization committee met in Bonn, Germany, and voted on including the Beit She’arim tombs in its list of sites notable for cultural heritage. The proposal passed with 17 votes in favor and four against.

Lebanon, Qatar, Algeria, and Malaysia opposed the motion.

The World Heritage List enshrined Beit She’arim because its catacombs contain a “treasury of artworks and inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew” and bear “a unique testimony to ancient Judaism under the leadership of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, who is credited with Jewish renewal after 135 CE.”

Zvika Zuk, the chief archaeologist of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, which manages the park where the necropolis is located, welcomed the decision.

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