One of the most richly decorated tombs from the Second Temple Period is located on the southern slope of the junction of the Kidron and Hinnom Valleys.
This is the area that some have called “Akeldama” or the “field of blood” that is associated with events surrounding the death of Judas. In 1994 Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer published an article suggesting that this special tomb may have been that of one of the High Priests mentioned in the New Testament and elsewhere.
The above images show a view looking south at the exterior of the tomb. On the right (west) side of the image notice the two semi-circular niches (for mourners/visitors?). The entrance to the tomb has been heavily quarried/destroyed. Notice the decorative partial shell conch over the now-almost-destroyed entrance to the tomb.
In the image above, remnants of an engaged column (pilaster) are visible as are two apses—possibly used by mourners and/or visitors.
Annas was a very influential High Priest (AD 6–15) whose sons, and later son-in-law, Caiaphas, succeeded him in that office. Annas is mentioned in the New Testament in Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24; and Acts 4:6.
Standing in front of this tomb, looking north, one has a clear view of the Temple Mount—were Annas and his descendents had served.
For a detailed description of this, and other tombs in the area, as well as the logic that this is the tomb of Annas please seen the article by Leen and Kathleen Ritmeyer, “Akeldama: Potter’s Field or High Priest’s Tomb?” Biblical Archaeology Review 20 (1994): 23-35, 76, 78.
In the next post — images of the magnificent interior of this tomb!