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Jerusalem & # 39; Tomb of the Kings & # 39 ;, pictured - the cemetery of the Jewish queen Helena of Adiabene - was opened to the public for the first time in a decade

Jerusalem & # 39; s & # 39; Tomb of the Kings & # 39; – the cemetery of Queen Helena of Adiabene, a Jewish convert – was opened to the public for the first time in a decade.

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Paying visitors to French archeology and sacred site in the eastern sector of the city can see the impressive courtyard of the tomb that is more than 2,000 years old.

France, which has been managing the site since the end of the 19th century, had closed access as part of an extensive restoration of $ 1.1 million (£ 0.9 million) in 2009.

The re-admission of a limited number of visitors follows several aborted attempts by the French Consulate General to reopen the grave in recent months.

Access to the internal burial chambers remains prohibited, but the public can buy tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave.

Despite the reopening, tensions remain between the French authorities and both Israeli nationalists and ultra-Orthodox Jews who dispute the ownership and entrance fee of the site.

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Jerusalem & # 39; Tomb of the Kings & # 39 ;, pictured - the cemetery of the Jewish queen Helena of Adiabene - was opened to the public for the first time in a decade

Jerusalem & # 39; Tomb of the Kings & # 39 ;, pictured – the cemetery of the Jewish queen Helena of Adiabene – was opened to the public for the first time in a decade

WHAT IS IT & # 39; GRAVE OF THE KINGS & # 39 ;?

The & # 39; Tomb of the Kings & # 39; is an extensive cemetery in the east of Jerusalem.

The grave dates from Roman times and is believed to have been the property of Queen Helena of Adiabene.

The Mesopotamian monarch was a convert to Judaism.

Archaeologist Louis Félicien de Saulcy, who surveyed the tomb in 1863, mistakenly thought that the site was the resting place of the Judean kings.

He found both human remains and two sarcofogi in the grave, which he moved to the Louvre in Paris, against the wishes of the Jewish community.

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The grave contained burial chambers on multiple levels, a tombstone moved by a complex mechanism, a courtyard carved into the rock and a ritual bath.

The Tomb of the Kings is & # 39; absolutely one of the most extensively decorated graves we have from the early Roman period in Jerusalem & # 39 ;, said archaeologist Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University.

The underground burial complex – dating back to the first century BC – remained in public consciousness and was a popular tourist attraction.

It was written in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Titus Flavius ​​Josephus about 200 years later and in the second century AD it was called by the Greek geographer Pausanias the second most beautiful grave in the world.

The site contained a lowered courtyard carved into the rock, channels that brought water into a ritual bath, a tombstone operated by an advanced mechanism.

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Access to the funeral rooms with multiple levels is through an ornate entrance that was once supported by two giant pillars, fragments of which were found in the 19th century.

A search of the grave in 1847 by order of the Turkish governor yielded no & # 39; treasures & # 39; on – if there ever was one, they may have been looted earlier.

As part of the first archaeological excavations in the Holy Land, Louis Félicien de Saulcy in France received permission from the Turkish sultan to examine the grave in 1863.

The Saulcy – who confused the grave with that of the biblical kings of the House of David – was forced to stop the excavation after human remains were discovered.

Against the protests of the local Jewish community, both the remains and two sarcophagi found in the grave were added to the collections of the Louvre in Paris.

As part of the first archaeological excavations in the Holy Land, Louis Félicien de Saulcy in France received permission from the Turkish sultan to examine the grave in 1863. Against the protests of the local Jewish community, both human remains and two sarcophagi (one of which is pictured) found inside were added to the Louvre collections in Paris
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As part of the first archaeological excavations in the Holy Land, Louis Félicien de Saulcy in France received permission from the Turkish sultan to examine the grave in 1863. Against the protests of the local Jewish community, both human remains and two sarcophagi (one of which is pictured) found inside were added to the Louvre collections in Paris

As part of the first archaeological excavations in the Holy Land, Louis Félicien de Saulcy in France received permission from the Turkish sultan to examine the grave in 1863. Against the protests of the local Jewish community, both human remains and two sarcophagi (one of which is pictured) found inside were added to the Louvre collections in Paris

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

In 1878, Amalya Bertrand – a French Jewish woman – bought the grave and the surrounding property for 30,000 francs from his Arab owners through the French consul in Jerusalem.

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& # 39; I firmly believe that this property, the field and the burial cave of the kings, will become the land in the eternity of the Jewish community, & # 39; she wrote at the time.

This, she had stated, would make it possible for & # 39; to be saved from desecration and horror, and will never be damaged by foreigners & # 39 ;.

Bertrand had a guard post and border wall built around the grave, but the burial chamber was robbed during its construction.

Eight years later, one of her heirs donated the land to the French government.

Paying visitors to French archeology and sacred site in the eastern sector of the city can see the impressive courtyard of the tomb that is more than 2000 years old

Paying visitors to French archeology and sacred site in the eastern sector of the city can see the impressive courtyard of the tomb that is more than 2000 years old

Paying visitors to French archeology and sacred site in the eastern sector of the city can see the impressive courtyard of the tomb that is more than 2000 years old

France, which has been managing the site since the end of the 19th century, had closed access as part of an extensive restoration of $ 1.1 million (£ 0.9 million) in 2009. On the photo, the grave site as it is at the appeared at the end of the 19th century

France, which has been managing the site since the end of the 19th century, had closed access as part of an extensive restoration of $ 1.1 million (£ 0.9 million) in 2009. On the photo, the grave site as it is at the appeared at the end of the 19th century

France, which has been managing the site since the end of the 19th century, had closed access as part of an extensive restoration of $ 1.1 million (£ 0.9 million) in 2009. On the photo, the grave site as it is at the appeared at the end of the 19th century

Most experts now dispute that the grave belonged to Queen Helena of Adiabene, a Mesopotamian monarch who converted to Judaism in the first century BC.

One of the sarcophagi from the grave, now in the Louvre, bears an inscription that is supposed to refer to Helena or one of her family members.

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& # 39; All in all, I think there is a scientific agreement that this grave should be associated with (queen) Helena, & # 39; said Dr. Peleg-Barkat.

Those who worship at the grave believe it was the resting place of several prominent ancient Jewish figures – including Queen Helena and her relatives – and that praying there will help bring rain and a good financial fortune.

Ultra Orthodox Jews have repeatedly called for the site to be opened for prayer without any form of restriction.

The re-admission of a limited number of visitors follows several aborted attempts by the French Consulate General to reopen the grave in recent months

The re-admission of a limited number of visitors follows several aborted attempts by the French Consulate General to reopen the grave in recent months

The re-admission of a limited number of visitors follows several aborted attempts by the French Consulate General to reopen the grave in recent months

Access to the funeral rooms with several levels is via an ornate entrance that was once supported by two giant pillars, fragments of which were found in the 19th century and can be seen here in this lithograph from 1842
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Access to the funeral rooms with several levels is via an ornate entrance that was once supported by two giant pillars, fragments of which were found in the 19th century and can be seen here in this lithograph from 1842

Access to the funeral rooms with several levels is via an ornate entrance that was once supported by two giant pillars, fragments of which were found in the 19th century and can be seen here in this lithograph from 1842

Political complexity arises because the neighborhood around the grave – Sheikh Jarrah – is predominantly Palestinian.

French officials have expressed concern that allowing unrestricted access to the grave – possibly encouraging for a large number of religious Jewish visitors in the neighborhood – could increase local tensions and even lead to violence.

Moreover, they said, the grave could become a Jewish holy place and a support for Israeli nationalists to form a new settlement around it.

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This would not be without a precedent. Another ancient grave in Sheikh Jarrah – that of Simeon the Just, where ultra-Orthodox Jews pray – has attracted a surrounding enclave of Israeli houses in the Palestinian neighborhood.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and then adopted a law in 1980 that annexed the territory – a movement not recognized by the United Nations.

Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, while Israel considers the entire city as the capital.

Over the past decade, the number of Israeli nationalists has increased that has bought property in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and expelled their Palestinian residents.

Access to the internal burial chambers remains prohibited, but the public can buy tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the internal burial chambers remains prohibited, but the public can buy tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the internal burial chambers remains prohibited, but the public can buy tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Despite the reopening, tensions remain between the French authorities and both Israeli nationalists and ultra-orthodox Jews who dispute the ownership and entrance fee of the site

Despite the reopening, tensions remain between the French authorities and both Israeli nationalists and ultra-orthodox Jews who dispute the ownership and entrance fee of the site

Despite the reopening, tensions remain between the French authorities and both Israeli nationalists and ultra-orthodox Jews who dispute the ownership and entrance fee of the site

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Access to the burial chambers in the picture remains prohibited, but the public can purchase tickets to visit the courtyard and the entrance to the grave

Yonathan Mizrachi, head of the Israeli organization Emek Shaveh who opposes the politicization of archeology, said the location of the grave in Sheikh Jarrah is so & # 39; politically problematic & # 39; for the French authorities.

The conflict over the site was reportedly intensified in 1997, when the consulate allowed the Jerusalem Festival of Arabic Music, organized by the Palestinian cultural organization Yabous, which advocates the boycott of Israel.

After the closure of the tomb in 2009, protests were organized outside the gates of the grave by ultra-orthodox Jews and religious nationalists.

Israeli religious groups have also sought legal ways to deprive France of property rights in court.

For example, in 2015 two Israeli rabbis sued the French government for controlling the site.

The tomb of the kings is & # 39; absolutely one of the most extensively decorated tombs we have from the early Roman period in Jerusalem & # 39 ;, said Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University

The tomb of the kings is & # 39; absolutely one of the most extensively decorated tombs we have from the early Roman period in Jerusalem & # 39 ;, said Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University

The tomb of the kings is & # 39; absolutely one of the most extensively decorated tombs we have from the early Roman period in Jerusalem & # 39 ;, said Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University

At its height, the site had a lowered courtyard carved into the rock, channels that brought water into a ritual bath, a tombstone operated by an advanced mechanism

At its height, the site had a lowered courtyard carved into the rock, channels that brought water into a ritual bath, a tombstone operated by an advanced mechanism

At its height, the site had a lowered courtyard carved into the rock, channels that brought water into a ritual bath, a tombstone operated by an advanced mechanism

Political complexity arises because the neighborhood around the grave - Sheikh Jarrah - is predominantly Palestinian

Political complexity arises because the neighborhood around the grave - Sheikh Jarrah - is predominantly Palestinian

Political complexity arises because the neighborhood around the grave – Sheikh Jarrah – is predominantly Palestinian

That case was thrown away, but a Jewish organization called & # 39; Hekdesh from the tomb of the kings & # 39; has renewed the challenge of ownership of France owned by the city.

In May 2019, Hekdesh prosecuted the French government before the Supreme Court of France, claiming that the Bertrand family's donation to the tomb of the kings was unlawful and that the property should instead have a Jewish faith.

Last month, French senator Gilbert Roger said that lawsuits challenging France were part of a global strategy of & # 39; territorial nibbling & by religious nationalists. & # 39;

& # 39; The conflict begins when religious people (…) try to claim possession of the grave because of its location in East Jerusalem, & # 39; he added.

Those who worship at the grave believe it was the resting place of several prominent ancient Jewish figures - including Queen Helena and her relatives - and that praying there will help bring rain and good financial fortune

Those who worship at the grave believe that it was the resting place of several prominent ancient Jewish figures - including Queen Helena and her relatives - and that praying there will help bring rain and good financial fortune

Those who worship at the grave believe that it was the resting place of several prominent ancient Jewish figures – including Queen Helena and her relatives – and that praying there will help bring rain and good financial fortune

The conflict over the site was reportedly intensified in 1997, when the consulate allowed the Jerusalem Festival of Arabic Music, organized by the Palestinian cultural organization Yabous, which advocates the boycott of Israel

The conflict over the site was reportedly intensified in 1997, when the consulate allowed the Jerusalem Festival of Arabic Music, organized by the Palestinian cultural organization Yabous, which advocates the boycott of Israel

The conflict over the site was reportedly intensified in 1997, when the consulate allowed the Jerusalem Festival of Arabic Music, organized by the Palestinian cultural organization Yabous, which advocates the boycott of Israel

In a statement, the French Consulate General said that the reopening was the & # 39; fruit of repair and security work carried out by the French authorities over the last 10 years & # 39 ;. The consulate is determined to facilitate visits by small groups in accordance with the & # 39;

In a statement, the French Consulate General said that the reopening was the & # 39; fruit of repair and security work carried out by the French authorities over the last 10 years & # 39 ;. The consulate is determined to facilitate visits by small groups in accordance with the & # 39;

In a statement, the French Consulate General said that the reopening was the & # 39; fruit of repair and security work carried out by the French authorities over the last 10 years & # 39 ;. The consulate is determined to facilitate visits by small groups in accordance with the & # 39;

In a statement, the French Consulate General said that the reopening of the & # 39; fruit of repair and security work by the French authorities over the last 10 years & # 39; used to be

The consulate is determined to facilitate visits by small groups according to the rules.

Israel's Foreign Ministry would have praised the move as a product of & # 39; long and strenuous & # 39; negotiations with France, but refused to further develop those discussions.

Access to the tomb is limited to 60 people on Tuesday and Thursday.

Visitors – including those who are planning to pray – must purchase tickets online in advance and register with a passport or identity card.

However, some Jews have claimed that the consulate's rules are meant to deter worshipers because many ultra-orthodox Jews avoid internet use and object to payment for access to a place of worship.

& # 39; France is making every effort to prevent many people from coming to pray & # 39 ;, said Haim Berkovits, a representative of Hekdesh.

The site, he added, must be & # 39; open as it should be, like any other historical site and place of worship & # 39 ;.

The Tomb of the Kings is located in the eastern sector of Jerusalem. Political complexity stems from the fact that the surrounding area - Sheikh Jarrah - is predominantly Palestinian

The Tomb of the Kings is located in the eastern sector of Jerusalem. Political complexity stems from the fact that the surrounding area - Sheikh Jarrah - is predominantly Palestinian

The Tomb of the Kings is located in the eastern sector of Jerusalem. Political complexity stems from the fact that the surrounding area – Sheikh Jarrah – is predominantly Palestinian

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