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I was thinking about old Jewish graves.

Certainly there's Ma'aras HaMachpeila in Chevron (was that continuously identified by Jews, or did our identification rely on Arabs' identification) and the like.

Moving much later, people can (and do) visit the graveyard in Safed, which contains the graves and tombstones of R' Yosef Karo and his colleagues, as they've been there for the past 400+ years.

But in between those: what are the oldest continuously-marked Jewish graves? I was told that several graves of Talmudic figures were re-identified by Arizal in the 1500s.

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The identification of Me'aras Hamachpelah goes back at least to Herod's times - the building is one of his constructions. That's a good 600 or more years before the Arab conquest of Eretz Yisrael. –  Alex Jun 3 '10 at 23:46
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3 Answers 3

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Some that I know of:

  • There is a grave in Silwan (the old City of David), with an inscription in ancient Hebrew script identifying it as the tomb of "יהו אשר על הבית...". It's definitely from First Temple times, and it is speculated to have been built for Shevna, King Chizkiyahu's faithless chief of staff (Isaiah 22:15ff, Sanhedrin 26a-b).

  • The tombs in the Kidron Valley (Zechariah's tomb, Yad Avshalom, the graves of Bnei Chezir) go back at least to Second Temple times, and perhaps earlier.

  • The tombs of the Sanhedrin, in Sanhedriah (north Jerusalem), are also from the Second Temple period, or maybe shortly thereafter.

  • There are some Jewish catacombs in Rome, with burials and inscriptions dating from the 1st century BCE to the fourth century CE.

  • R' M.M. Kasher, in the appendix to Torah Shleimah on Parshas Bo (vol. 12, I think), discusses some graves from Tzoar, near the Dead Sea, dated 434 or 435 since the Destruction (503 or 504 CE).


And of course, I've forgotten the ones mentioned explicitly in Tanach (aside from the Cave of Machpelah): Rachel's tomb in Beis Lechem, and Yosef's tomb in Shechem (now, unfortunately, destroyed). As far as I know, those have always been known and identified as such.

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Many of these were re-discovered. What about those continuously known? –  Shalom Jun 4 '10 at 13:13
    
The Kidron Valley ones, then, would be the most likely candidates. –  Alex Jun 4 '10 at 20:36
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Re Daniel's Tomb in Susa, Iran. I was told about this about 10 years ago by a friend who was a Zaroastrian. It seems they would visit the tomb, I believe, quite regualarly on a yearly basis.

You can probably guess that Susa is the Shushan of our Purim megillah.

So where is Esther?

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Hiding, of course. :) –  Alex May 10 '11 at 23:09
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Welcome to judaism.SE! Please note that this sort of comment is best expressed as a comment on the answer it's a response to. –  Isaac Moses May 11 '11 at 2:13
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