Ancient Mystery: 4,000-Year-Old Headless Toads Found in Israeli Tomb

October 4, 2017 Updated: October 4, 2017

An odd finding was made inside a 4,000-year-old tomb in Israel: the decapitated bodies of at least nine toads.

The tomb was found in the Hahal Repha’im basin during the Canaanite period four millennia ago. Two settlements, cemeteries, and temples were found and provided “new insight” into the life of the local population there, researchers said.

“For an archaeologist, finding tombs that were intentionally sealed in antiquity is a priceless treasure, because they are a time capsule that allows us to encounter objects almost just as they were originally left,” said excavation directors Shua Kisilevitz and Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported Fox News.

“At that time, it was customary to bury the dead with offerings that constituted a kind of ‘burial kit,’ which, it was believed, would serve the deceased in the afterworld. When we removed the stone that blocked the tomb opening, we were excited to discover intact bowls and jars.”

(Shua Kisilevitz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“In one of the jars, to our surprise, we found a heap of small bones. The study of the bones … revealed at least nine toads. Interestingly, they had been decapitated.”

Dr. Dafna Langgut of Tel Aviv University says the date palm that was found represented fertility and rejuvenation.

Regarding the toads, Kisilevitz told the Times of Israel that “we understand that this was part of the food consumed while still alive.”

As to why the toad’s heads were removed, “they would have been taken off so that the skin could be removed in preparation for eating,” she said.