The rare pyramid is built of huge ashlar stones that were hewn in the vicinity. In ancient times it was easy to see the unique structure proudly overlooking the area from the top of the hill and today, the remains of the pyramid are hidden in vegetation.
Archeologist Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of Hebrew University is studying the pyramid and describes the structure's size as rare and monumental.
"The length of the base sides of the pyramid are 10 meters and the height is about 3 meters," said Dr. Peleg-Barkat. "The pyramid was built near a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple and there is a high probability that it is a Jewish cemetery."
While ancient peoples all over the world have built pyramids, what is the connection to Jews?
According to archaeologist and Prof. Boaz Zissu of Bar-Ilan University, after the establishment of the empire of Alexander the Great, which conquered and unified the region geographically and culturally, Second Temple era Jews were influenced by the dominant Hellenistic culture.
"Ancient Egyptian culture had an influence on the Hellenistic culture that ruled the Land of Israel, and Hellenistic culture in turn influenced the Jews living in its territory. The pyramid was built on the border between Jewish communities and Edomite communities and it is assumed that the Jews took the geometry of the pyramid rather than the religious ideas," said Prof. Zissu.
In ancient Jewish sources, the monument above the burial cave is called "Nefesh," and it symbolizes the location of the cave. In Israel, there are other pyramids such as those in the Jerusalem area like the Tomb of Zechariah in the Kidron Valley.
Despite the hypothesis that the structure is indeed a burial complex, Dr. Peleg-Barkat notes that the chances of the underground caves being excavated are low. This is due to an incident in the 1970s in which Ultra-Orthodox protestors destroyed findings they deemed "desecration of graves" of a previous Jewish burial ground.
(Contributed, translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)