At Nahlija, in Ghajn Tuffieha, two rock-cut tombs were accidentally
discovered. Unfortunately, the tombs had to be destroyed.
The Nahlija rock-cut tomb was discovered on 20 July 1932, when
workmen under the supervision of Mr. A. L. Bell Supt. Civil Engineer
H. M’s Dockyard, were clearing a site in the rifle ranges
at Ghajn Tuffieha. They discovered it when they came across a
shaft that led to a tomb which was still sealed by a stone slab.
A workman shifted the slab and so, the tomb’s furniture
had to be taken to a safer place. The Museum’s Department
was informed and when the archaeologists arrived on the scene
they found some of the items were already removed. 1
The tomb consisted of a rectangular shaft, 8 ft. deep, 7 ft. long,
and 4 ft. wide, and was on an East West direction. The chamber
was cut at the bottom of the Western wall of the shaft. When the
archaeologists arrived, the sealing slab was still standing close
to the entrance. It measured 5 ft high, 2 ft. 10 inches wide with
a thickness of 8 inches, and was meant to accurately fit the entrance.
The tomb was cut in the globigerina limestone. 2
The level floor of the chamber was covered with about 1 ft. of
sandy silt and the chamber itself was roughly rectangular in shape
with a flat ceiling. It measured 6 ft. 6 inch in length, 5 ft.
4 inch in breath at the entrance and about 6 ft at the back end.
The height of the chamber was about 5 ft. A trench starting at
about 1 ft. from the entrance was cut in the floor for the whole
length of the chamber parallel to the sides, with a width of 1
ft. 6 inch and a depth of one ft. 3
The trench divided the floor into two platforms that on the right
being 1 ft. 7 inch wide and the other 3 ft. wide. The remains
of a burial were found on the right platform and three skeletons
on the left, all stretched on their back with feet towards the
entrance. The three skeletons to the left were of male adults,
the one to the right was that of a female. Before their removal,
practically, all the tomb furniture was massed at the feet of
the three skeletons, a big oval amphra was found in the trench.
The objects buried with the bodies were: an oval two handled amphora
about 3 ft. long, five aryballi, one oenochoe, eight small fairly
deep dishes, four small bilychness lamps, one deep bowl, fragments
of two small dishes and a small glass unguentarium. The pottery
was of the common buff coloured well-baked terracotta very late
in shape and without any decoration. The tomb itself of the characteristic
3rd period shape used down to the 1st Century A.D. 5
No signs of cremation whatever was detected in connection with
the tomb. The tomb had to be destroyed in the course of the construction
of the firing range.
In the same day and year of the above mentioned, another rock-cut
tomb was discovered some 3 yards from the previous mentioned tomb.
Unfortunately, the tomb was not preserved as the previous one
and it was found that to have been rifled in previous years. Only
fragments of human bones and of pottery were discovered. The shaft
was 8 ft. 6 in. wide and 8 ft deep. When the tomb was discovered
the sealing slab was still in place, but sufficiently displaced
to allow a man to move in and out freely.6
The floor of the chamber was found covered with stones rolled
in after cleaning the shaft. The chamber itself of which the main
axis had a East-West direction was rectangular, 9 ft. in length,
5 ft in width and 4 ft. 6 inch in height. No trench was cut in
the floor. No sign of cremation was found. The tomb had to be
destroyed like the above mentioned one. 7