Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AN OWNERSHIP DISPUTE has arisen over the Tomb of the Kings in East Jerusalem:
Doubt cast on French ownership of J'lem's Tomb of the Kings
By MICHAEL FREUND (Jerusalem Post

An essay appearing in the latest issue of a prominent Israeli journal raises new questions about the ownership of the Tomb of the Kings, an ancient Jewish holy site in east Jerusalem which has been under French control for 120 years.

The paper, which appears in Et-mol, a bimonthly periodical of the Yad Ben-Zvi Institute, was authored by Eyal Ben-Eliyahu of Hebrew University's Department of the History of the Jewish People. It cites an array of new evidence indicating that France's acquisition of the site in 1886 may not have been fully legal.


Located on Salah a-Din Street, the Tomb of the Kings dates back to the Second Temple period. It is considered the largest burial ground in Jerusalem, and includes a huge courtyard adjoining an entrance to several underground chambers.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, it was built by Queen Helen of Adiabene in Kurdistan, who converted to Judaism along with her family and then moved to the Land of Israel.

Historians believe that it later served as a burial site for the queen and her offspring. Jewish tradition, however, identifies it as the grave of either Nakdimon ben-Gurion, a prominent Jerusalemite, or Kalba Savua, the father-in-law of Talmudic sage Rabbi Akiva, both of whom lived at the time of the Roman occupation over nineteen centuries ago.

Read it all for the details of the dispute.

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