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Japanese Tomb

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Japanese Tomb

The Japanese Tomb was first excavated in 1994. It takes its name from the fact that the restoration work was carried out by Japanese archaeologists (although the completely unpronounceable names of the tomb’s two patrons, ‘Bwlh’ and ‘Bwrp’ might have something to do with it). The immaculate crispness of the restoration work is not to everybody’s taste, though it certainly gives you an excellent insight (perhaps even better than the reconstruction of the Hypogeum of Yarhai in the National Museum in Damascus) into what these tombs would have looked like originally. The entrance to the tomb consists of a massive single-slab stone door with carved panels and two small griffins. The lintel of the doorway is richly decorated, while above this is a carved satyr’s head and an inscription dedicating the tomb, which dates from AD 128, to the two brothers Bwlh and Bwrp. Leading off on either side of the main gallery as you enter are two arched side-chambers (note the medusa faces carved into the keystones of the arches, designed to ward off evil spirits). In each side-chamber is a sarcophogus topped by a sculpure depicting a family banqueting scene. Both these side-chambers are comparatively simple; according to the inscription above the door they were given away in AD 220 and AD 222. Running around the main gallery is a particularly ornate frieze, while carved into the walls are the burial loculi, sealed by funerary busts. At the far end is a large frieze illustrating another family banqueting scene, presumably that of Bwlh and Bwrp.

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