Beit Shearim is the currently used name for the ancient Jewish town of Bet Shearāyim or Kfar Shearāyim. The Arabic name of the hill it stands on is Sheikh Ibreik or Sheikh Abreik, another Arabic name is bayt al-ġurabāʾ. The partially excavated archaeological site consists mainly of a necropolis of rock-cut tombs. The site is managed by the National Parks Authority as the Beit Shearim National Park and it borders the town of Kiryat Tivon on the northeast and is located five kilometres west of Moshav Beit Shearim. It is situated 20 km east of Haifa in the foothills of the Lower Galilee. In 2015 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the rationale of the committee was as follows, The towns vast necropolis, carved out of soft limestone, contains more than 30 burial cave systems. Although only a portion of the necropolis has been excavated, it has been likened to a book inscribed in stone, the wealth of artistic adornments contained in this, the most ancient extensive Jewish cemetery in the world, is unparalleled anywhere. According to Moshe Sharon, following Yechezkel Kutscher, the name of the city was Bet Shearayim or Kfar Shearayim. The ancient Yemenite Jewish pronunciation of the name is also Bet Shearayim, the popular orthography for the Hebrew word for house, בֵּית, is beit, while the traditional King James one is beth, the effort being now to replace both with the etymologically better suited bet. Pottery shards discovered at the site indicate that a first settlement there dates back to the Iron Age, Beit Shearayim was founded at the end of the 1st century BCE, during the reign of King Herod. The Roman Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, in his Vita, referred to the city in Greek as Besara, the Galilee earthquake of 363 did damage Bet Shearayim, but without long-lasting effects. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the Sanhedrin moved to Beit Shearayim, the town is mentioned rabbinical literature as an important center of Jewish learning during the 2nd century. Rabbi Judah the Prince, head of the Sanhedrin and compiler of the Mishna, in the last seventeen years of his life, he moved to Sepphoris for health reasons, but planned his burial in Beit Shearim. According to tradition, he owned there land he received as a gift from his friend, the most desired burial place for Jews was the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, but in 135 CE, when Jews were barred from the area, Beit Shearim became an alternative. While it was thought that Bet Shearayim was destroyed during the Jewish revolt against Gallus in the mid-4th century. An earthquake in 386 caused some damage, but the town recovered and enjoyed prosperity during the era of Byzantine rule, almost 300 inscriptions primarily in Greek, but also in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Palmyrene were found on the walls of the catacombs containing numerous sarcophagi. From the beginning of the Early Islamic period, settlement was sparse, excavations uncovered 75 lamps dating to the period of Umayyad and Abassid rule over Palestine. A large Abbasid-period glassmaking facility from the 9th century was found at the site
Facade of the "Cave of the Coffins"
Beit She'arim National Park
Wall inscription (epitaph) in Greek: "The tomb of Aidesios, head of the council of elders, from Antiochia"