Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ancient rebel caves in the Galilee

ARCHAEOLOGY: Caves in Which Jewish Rebels Hid From Romans 2,000 Years Ago Found in Galilee. As the First Jewish War raged in ancient Palestine, villagers would hide in impressively inaccessible cliffside caves as the Roman armies marched through (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
While surveying natural limestone caves in the Galilee, scientists have discovered hundreds of limestone caves in which Jews hid when Roman troops came marching through 2,000 years ago, during the Great Jewish Revolt (66-70 CE).

Extensive embellishment such as baths and candle niches carved into the rock show that the caves had been prepared for extensive habitation.

Water cisterns carved into the rock, as well as pitchers, pottery shards, coins, and other artifacts dating to the 1st century C.E. were found in many of the cliff shelters, say Dr. Yinon Shivtiel from the Safed Academic College and Vladimir Boslove of the Israeli Cave Research Center. The work was funded by the Safed Academic College Research Foundation.

The Jewish historian Josephus wrote extensively about the Roman-Jewish wars. Some historians have wondered whether he didn't embellish his role in the Jewish uprising, glorifying his own actions.  But the discoveries of the caves in the Galilee, which were made over a period of years, lend credence to his accounts.

It would be very cool if these caves, like the Bar Kokhba-era caves in the Judean Desert, produced some written documents left by the rebels. But the climate of the Galilee is not as dry as the climate in the south, so, sadly, any parchments or papyri left in the caves would probably not have survived until now.

A post from several years ago noting an article on the mikvehs (ritual baths) found in the caves is here. And from long ago, another past post on the Galilean caves used by the Jewish rebels is here. Some past posts on Josephus and his convoluted career are here and links. That link also has more on the algorithm that seems to have saved him during the incident in the Jotapata cave.