Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Forgotten Treasures of the Revolution

A couple of weeks back I posted a video clip of Yigeal Yadin discussing how he found the cave of letters where followers of Bar Kochba had been hiding. Bar Kochba was the charismatic leader of the second Jewish revolt who also harbored messianic tendencies. 

Among the documents found in the cave of letters was a stash of papers and letters belonging to a widow named Babatha. From her "purse" we have been able to learn much about her life as a Jewish woman in the second  century. 

Recently the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced another fine from the Bar Kochba era. A stash of coins and woman's jewelry were found. Here is the report from the Jerusalem post

"The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 CE," says Aladjem. "The coins are adorned with the images of the emperors and on their reverse are cultic portrayals of the emperor, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand.”
Sa'ar Ganor, District Archaeologist of Ashkelon and the Western Negev for the Israel Antiquities Authority, says that the collection was probably hidden away for safekeeping, but never reclaimed. 
"This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba revolt," says Ganor. "It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it."

You can read the whole article here. The discovery doesn't tell us as much about women in that time as did the Babatha archive, but it does provide a window into the thoughts of those who were struggling with the Romans and hoping to survive. Like people throughout history, we try to bury what we own in the hopes that we can get it later. And too often it is someone else who comes along and finds it.

HT: Jim Davila

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