Gazan unearths ancient graves in vegetable patch

Abdel-Karim Cafran, a Palestinian resident of Beit Hanun, holds a pottery fragment at a freshly-discovered cemetery in the garden of his house in the town in the northern Gaza Strip, on Jan. 26, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 27 January 2018
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Gazan unearths ancient graves in vegetable patch

BEIT HANUN: When Abdul Karim Al-Kafarnah went to check the rainwater gushing down a hole in his garden he was in for quite a shock — hidden steps led him down to an ancient grave complex.
The 24-year-old lives in the Beit Hanoun district of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli border which suffered intensive bombardment during the 2014 conflict between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants.
The family home was destroyed and the surrounding plots heavily churned up, leaving extensive craters in the ground.
The flash-flooding earlier this week led him to one particular spot, where, on removing a large stone, he found a staircase leading four meters (13 feet) down into an ancient tomb.
“I discovered the place where the water was falling in,” he told AFP.
“I lifted the stone and a stale smell came out.”
As he descended he found a total of nine graves, with piles of bones in some of them — seemingly containing more than one body each. He also found votive lamps and other pottery.
Gaza-based archaeologist Ayman Hassouna said the finds suggested the grave dated back to the Roman era, 2,000 years ago.
“The burial and excavation methods in this tomb date it back to the Roman period but it may have continued in use into the early Byzantine period (5th to 7th centuries AD),” he said.
Professor Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina, said such tombs were relatively common in the Holy Land between 100 BC and 100 AD, and again between 300 and 500 AD.
“Typically, these were family tombs, or sometimes larger tomb complexes could be divided up among families,” she told AFP.
Gaza was a prosperous port in the Roman and early Byzantine periods and boasted many ancient monuments that have since been lost.


Turkish court acquits rapper arrested over lyrics: CNN Turk

Updated 19 June 2018
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Turkish court acquits rapper arrested over lyrics: CNN Turk

ISTANBUL: A Turkish rapper who faced 10 years of jail on charges of encouraging drug use in his lyrics was acquitted on Tuesday at the first session of his trial in Istanbul, broadcaster CNN Turk reported.
Sercan Ipekcioglu, 27, better known by his stage name Ezhel, had been detained since last month after a court accepted a prosecutor’s indictment against him over his lyrics and social media posts, it said.
He denied the charges.
Ezhel, whose videos have racked up millions of views online, refers to smoking marijuana in some of his songs. In Turkey, the encouragement of drug use is punishable by law, as is the possession and sale of narcotics.
Dozens of his fans flooded the court house ahead of the trial, CNN Turk said. The hashtag #FreeEzhel was one of the top trending topics on Turkish Twitter.
“After four weeks of pre-trial detention, the judge took just 30 minutes to rule for rapper Ezhel’s release and acquittal,” said Andrew Gardner of Amnesty International, which followed the trial on Monday.
Some 20,000 Turks took part in Amnesty’s campaign for release of the singer, Gardner said.
Amnesty International has campaigned for journalists, singers and rights defenders jailed in Turkey as part of a government crackdown on the right to free expression which accelerated after a failed coup in 2016.