coin Bar Kokhba Revolt Era 248 88.
(photo credit: Brian Blondy)
Israeli archaeologists unveiled never before seen historical artifacts from a recent discovery of a Judean Hills cave used by Jewish refugees during the Bar Kokhba rebellion in 132-35 CE. The findings were presented at a press conference held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Wednesday morning.
The massive discovery marks the first time Israeli researchers have ever found a large hoard of ancient coins from this era. The gold, silver and bronze coins, 120 in all, were discovered in an undisclosed location within the 'Green Line' of Israel. The unlocking of the almost inaccessible cave also yielded iron weapons, storage jars, oil lamps, a juglet, a silver earring and a glass bottle.
The 20-meter deep cave and its bounty are continuing to be explored by Prof. Amos Frumkin and Boaz Langford of the Cave Research Unit in the Department of Geography of the Hebrew University and Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. Hanan Eshel of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. The project is made possible with the support of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
The artifacts are believed to be solid evidence proving the theory that Jews found refuge in the Judean Hills during the time-period.
With this find, Prof. Zissu said that the distribution of the coins in the region helps to further "indicate the geographical extent of the Jewish presence outside of Jerusalem" during the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. Prof. Zissu further explained that "since there is not a definitive historian (from the era), we have to rely on the information we find from the coins and discoveries."
Prof. Frumkin added "this discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean desert." The researchers believe that the Judean Hills cave served as a hiding place, with its proximity to the ancient city of Betar, for a dozen or more Jewish fighters.
Prof. Frumkin theorizes the possibility "that the occupants were of a special status" in relation to the strategic location of the cave, the weapons and the amount of money that was found.
Finding a cave of such magnitude explained Frumkin "provides the archaeological context of the people" who were at the time managing to re-establish Jewish sovereignty.
A majority of the discovered coins were in excellent condition, which helped the researchers delve deeper into the mysteries of the era. Most of the coins were originally Roman designed and manufactured. Thereafter, Jewish fighters pressed their own insignias into the coins. Leaders of the Jewish resistance imprinted and dated coins for each year of the rebellion with, for example, images of the exterior of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and poetry for reclaiming Jerusalem as a means for spreading the rebellion via currency.
The Bar Kokhba Revolt was fought against the Roman Empire and it was last of the Jewish-Roman wars. The revolt, led by Simon bar Kokhba, was meant to put down the Roman occupation of the land of Israel. Bar Kokhba managed to establish a Jewish state over parts of Judea, as Jews were banned from living in Jerusalem or visiting the site of the destroyed Second Temple. For almost two years until the Roman armies put down the resistance, Jewish resistance fighters inflicted heavy casualties upon the Roman army. Staggering estimates of the Jewish death toll exceed 500,000 civilian causalities and almost 1,000 towns destroyed by the Roman army. Many scholars view the Bar Kokhba Revolt as the beginning of the Jewish Diaspora.
Prof. Frumkin expects further discoveries in the area to surface but "none possibly on this scale." While the occupants of the cave were never to reclaim their belongings, the discovery of their items and future ones as well, are helping to unlock an almost 2,000 year-old unsolved history of the Jewish people in the land of Israel.