Date:

Evidence of Necromancy during Late Antiquity in the Te’omim Cave

The discovery of oil lamps, weapons, and human skulls, suggest that Te’omim Cave was used for necromancy ceremonies during the Late Roman Period.

Te’omim Cave, also known as Mŭghâret Umm et Tûeimîn (“the cave of the mother of twins”), is a cave complex in Israel’s Jerusalem Hills east of Beit Shemesh.

- Advertisement -

Oral tradition has long attributed the cave’s spring waters to have magical healing properties and powers of fertility due to a 19th century legend, where an infertile woman drank waters from the cave and became pregnant with twins.

The cave was first studied in 1873, with more recent studies since 2009 uncovering over 120 intact oil lamps that date from the 2nd to 4th century AD. All the oil lamps were deliberately deposited into narrow crevices in the cave walls and beneath piles of rubble, while some of the crevices also contained groups of weapons and human skulls.

According to a study published in the journal Cambridge Core, the artefact deposits were used for necromancy ceremonies that took place in the cave during the Late Roman period, and that the cave may have served as a local oracle for the dead (nekyomanteion).

Placing of such finds in cavities was used for sorcery and magic in caves as possible portals to the underworld. Te’omim Cave was consecrated to the local god Tammuz-Adonis and it appears that the cultic traditions and ceremonies practiced there were those of the eastern part of the empire and the Levant.

- Advertisement -

According to the study: “Their purpose was to predict the future and conjure up the spirits of the dead. Because more than 100 ceramic oil lamps but only three human skulls have been found so far in the Te’omim Cave, we hypothesize that the primary cultic ceremony focused on depositing oil lamps for chthonic forces, perhaps as part of rituals conducted in the cave to raise the dead and predict the future.”


Cambridge Core

https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816023000214

Header Image Credit : B. Zissu

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Archaeologists search for home of infamous Tower of London prisoner

A team of archaeologists are searching for the home of Sir Arthur Haselrig, a leader of the Parliamentary opposition to Charles I, and whose attempted arrest sparked the English Civil War.

Tartessian plaque depicting warrior scenes found near Guareña

Archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology of Mérida (IAM) and the CSIC have uncovered a slate plaque depicting warrior scenes at the Casas del Turuñuelo archaeological site.

Archaeologists find a necropolis of stillborn babies

Excavations by the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) have unearthed a necropolis for stillborn and young children in the historic centre of Auxerre, France.

Researchers find historic wreck of the USS “Hit ‘em HARDER”

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) has confirmed the discovery of the USS Harder (SS 257), an historic US submarine from WWII.

Archaeologists uncover Roman traces of Vibo Valentia

Archaeologists from the Superintendent of Archaeology Fine Arts and Landscape have made several major discoveries during excavations of Roman Vibo Valentia at the Urban Archaeological Park.

Archaeologists uncover crypts of the Primates of Poland

Archaeologists have uncovered two crypts in the collegiate church in Łowicz containing the Primates of Poland.

Giant prehistoric rock engravings could be territorial markers

Giant rock engravings along the Upper and Middle Orinoco River in South America could be territorial markers according to a new study.

Infant burials found under prehistoric “dragon stone”

A study, published in the journal Science Direct, has revealed the discovery of two infant burials beneath a prehistoric “dragon stone” in Armenia.