Although the tomb of Queen Helena of Adiabene (a kingdom located in what is now Iraq) is located in the West Bank city of Nablus (Shechem), it has been under French control since 1885. French authorities announced that, for the first time, it will be opened to visitors. Hagay Hacohen explains the site’s history:
The people of the ancient kingdom of Adiabene had converted to Judaism in the 1st century CE, while Queen Helena moved to Jerusalem to build palaces for herself and her sons, Izates bar Monobaz and Monobaz II, [who are buried there as well]. The French archaeologist Louis Félicien de Saulcy, who studied the site in 1863, thought he had found the burials grounds of the House of David.
The Jewish community, outraged by de Saulcy’s removal of human remains—which is against Jewish religious law—demanded he stop his work. The French archaeologist eventually did so, but not before he made sure the discovered sarcophagi and other findings would be shipped to Paris, where today they are preserved at the Louvre.
To prevent further damages, the site was bought by the French-Jewish Péreire family and given to the government of France on the condition it would keep the site for the benefit of the Jewish people.