At the top of a silent, pathless crest in central Israel lies Horvat Hani, where archaeologists have identified the ruins of the first convent ever discovered in ancient Israel, and a burial ground exclusively for women and girls. That cemetery would remain in use for over a thousand years, plied by both Christian and Muslim women in the region.The case for the site being a nunnery founded in the fifth century looks persuasive, if perhaps not conclusive. The case for the third-century church having a connection with a traditional site of the grave of Hannah sounds more speculative. But it isn't presented in detail in this article. And any connection with the actual burial site of the biblical Hannah, if there was such a person, is very speculative and would be very hard to prove.
The ruins at Horvat Hani may go back as much as 1,700 years, to the days of early Christianity in the Holy Land. The nunnery and cemetery were built on what the faithful believed to be the grave of Hannah, who the bible says became mother of Samuel by divine intervention.
To read this article, you need a free registration with Haaretz.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.