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The visitor encounters six chronologically arranged panels that traverse the Paleolithic, Bronze, Iron, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval and Ottoman periods.The restoration of the museum's subterranean vaults took two years and museum curator Anne-Marie Afeiche says she and her team worked for eight months selecting which pieces to exhibit.In one cradle-shaped tomb dating back to the sixth millennium B.C., a small child lies in a fetal position, frozen in time, thumb still in his mouth. The objects next to him suggest that even in those days people hoped for life beyond death. The objects were to accompany the dead in the afterlife – a practice that resonated across the ages.Large jars from the Chalcolithic period – a transitional phase between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age – are also on display. Perhaps the crowning jewel of this subterranean gallery is a display of 31 sarcophagi depicting human features.Phoenician inscriptions on later tombs mark the importance of writing, starting in the first millennium B.C. In fact, funerary inscriptions found on Ahiram's sarcophagus, dating to 1000 BC, reveal one of the earliest representations of the Phoenician alphabet. Ahiram's tomb can be found on the museum's ground floor.
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