The Kidron Valley on the eastern side of The Old City of Jerusalem, separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives, continues east through the Judean desert in the West Bank, towards the Dead Sea. The central point of reference for the upper Kidron Valley is its confluence of Jerusalem's richest concentration of rock-hewn tombs. This area, located on the periphery of the village Silwan, was one of the main burial grounds of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period.Several of these tombs were also used later in time, either as burial or as shelters for hermits and monks of the large monastic communities, which inhabited the Kidron Valley.

The three monumental tombs on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley are among the most well-known landmarks of ancient Jerusalem. These are, from north to south, the so-called Tomb of Absalom, Tomb of Benei Hezir and Tomb of Zechariah.

Absalom's Tomb

Absalom's Tomb consists of two parts. First, a lower cube hewn out of the bedrock, decorated with engaged Ionic columns bearing a Doric frieze and crowned by an Egyptian cornice. This part of the monument contains a small chamber with an entrance and two arched funeral niches and constitutes the actual tomb. The second part, built of ashlars, is placed on top of the rock-hewn cube. It consists of a square pedestal carrying a round drum, itself topped by a conical roof. The cone is slightly concave and is crowned by an Egyptian-style lotus flower. The 'Pillar of Absalom' is dated to the 1st century CE.

Tomb of Zechariah

Tomb of Zechariah is a monolith — it is completely carved out of the solid rock and does not contain a burial chamber. The lowest part of the monument is a crepidoma, a base made of three steps. Above it there is a stylobate, upon which there is a decoration of two ionic columns between two half ionic columns and at the corners there are two pilasters. The capitals are of the Ionic order and are decorated with the egg-and-dart decoration. The upper part of the monument is an Egyptian-style cornice upon which sits a pyramid. Interestingly the fine masonry and decoration that is visible on the western side, the facade, is on the western side alone. On the other sides of the tomb the work is extremely rough and unfinished; it seems as if the work was abruptly stopped before the artists could finish the job.

According to a Jewish tradition, which is first suggested by the 1215 CE writings of Menahem haHebroni, this is the tomb of the priest Zechariah Ben Jehoiada, a figure that the Book of Chronicles.

Tomb of Benei Hezir

The Tomb of Benei Hezir is the oldest of four monumental rock-cut tombs in the Kidron Valley. The tomb dates to the second century BCE, the Hellenistic period and the time of the Hasmonean monarchy in Jewish history. It is a complex of burial caves. The tomb was originally accessed from a single rock-cut stairwell which descends to the tomb from the north. At a later period an additional entrance was created by quarrying a tunnel from the courtyard of the Tomb of Zechariah. This is also the contemporary entrance to the burial complex.

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