A burial textile from the first century CE in Jerusalem compared to roman textiles in the land of Israel and the Turin Shroud
Curator of Organic Materials, Israel Antiquities Authority
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Although the grave in the Ben Hinnom Valley (Akeldama) in Jerusalem was visited by robbers, there was a single, sealed and untouched loculus. Upon opening this grave a black mass of material and bones were found. The mass itself appeared to be made up of fabric and human hair. The bones in this loculus had not been gathered for a secondary burial, as was the custom for Jewish burials at the beginning of the first millennium CE.
The textile fragments belong to a shroud. The deceased was buried with the shroud because there was no secondary burial. The tomb was probably sealed because of leprosy and there was no bone-collecting after a year. The shroud is made of wool. The Z-spin of the wool suggests production outside of Israel as Z-spun threads form only a small proportion of textiles in Israel and its neighbouring countries in the Roman period. The wool textile from the Ben Hinnom Valley could, therefore, have been imported from Greece or Italy in which Z-spinning was the norm. I will compare this discovery to: a. Textile evidence from burials found in the Land Israel; b. The Mishnaic and Talmudic sources; c. Textiles from the Roman period discovered in the Land of Israel; d. The Turin shroud.
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