June 25, 2009- Biblical Archaeology Review reports:
An unscathed 4,000-year-old tomb was accidently discovered in the city of Bethlehem during renovation being carried out on a local house. Construction workers were led to the tomb, which dates between 1,900 B.C. and 2,200 B.C., through a hole found near the Church of the Nativity.
The workers contacted the appropriate antiquities authorities, who arrived to document the tomb and its contents, which were located about a meter below the surface.
Intact tombs from this period are rare. Burial items such as pottery, plates and beads were retrieved from the tomb, along with the remains of two individuals. The opportunity to properly excavate and record an intact tomb from the era is expected to allow scientists to gain greater insight into the burial practices of the people living during the Canaanite period.
Todd Bolen, commenting on this find, has written:
The tomb dates to the Intermediate Bronze period, also confusingly known as Early Bronze IV or Middle Bronze I. Many tombs from this period, including intact ones, have been found throughout Israel. In fact, this period is primarily known from its cemeteries, with relatively few settlements discovered. (See this post for photos of a cemetery from this period found a couple of years ago in Jerusalem.)
More importantly, this tomb indicates an early presence in the city that later came to be known as Bethlehem, the city of David’s birth. I don’t see anything about material from this period in NEAEH, which may indicate the significance of this discovery.