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Syrian Royal Tomb



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Underworld Revealed in Syria
Photograph by Manoocher

Lights illuminate subterranean remains of a royal palace from the Bronze Age kingdom of Qatna. The narrow corridor at right leads to a steep shaft that descends to a 3,700-year-old tomb. Buried by debris as the palace was sacked by invaders, the tomb remained untouched until its recent discovery by German archaeologist Peter Pfälzner and his team, who are excavating Qatna in cooperation with a Syrian team led by archaeologist Michel Al-Maqdissi and an Italian team led by archaeologist Daniele Morandi Bonacossi. Inside the tomb they found jumbled human remains, animal bones, pottery, and stone benches that Pfälzner believes provide evidence of a Near Eastern cult of the dead—until now known only through brief mentions in scattered ancient texts. According to those accounts, Qatna's king, members of his family, and priests would enter the tomb at least once a month for a ritual feast with royal ancestors.

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Canon EOS 1V
Film Type: Kodachrome 200
Lens: 24mm
Speed and F-Stop: Two seconds @ f/16

Weather Conditions: Indoors
Time of Day: After sunset with little light in the sky
Lighting Techniques: Artificial
Special Equipment or Comments: I installed 20 projectors, 500 watts each,
to illuminate the corridor and the tomb entrance.



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