Friday, October 29, 2004

DR. RICHARD FREUND is interviewed in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger about his excavation in the Cave of the Letters near the Dead Sea. Excerpt:
Q: What were your findings in the Cave of the Letters?
A: Unlike Yadin who held that this was a cave used exclusively by the Bar Kochba Rebellion as a final refuge in their tragic battle against the Romans in the second century CE. I proved that the cave was in use during the most critical time in all Jewish history, the first century rebellion against the Romans that resulted in the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem. The Cave of Letters was the refuge that the priests and zealots came to as they escaped Jerusalem with the greatest treasures of the Jewish people -- the treasures of the Temple and holy books of Jerusalem� The "secrets" we discovered included new techniques, new coins, pottery that could be identified down to the location of its clay, and that Yadin had only discovered a small part of the story of this cave. Hall C, the final cave opening, (the size of a large auditorium) was where all of the secular documents of Bar Kochba and a woman named Babatha from the Bar Kochba rebellion were discovered. In Hall A, Yadin discovered ritual objects (that I think he misidentified) and a small scrap of a Psalm from the book of Psalms. Since 1961, 30 Psalm manuscripts were identified as coming from that area (and misidentified for 40 years!), making the Hall A, the large entrance hall to the Cave of Letters, a place where religious people from the first century zealot and priestly groups probably gathered. We rediscovered the Niche of Skulls that included 17 people and many of the bones were still perfectly preserved there. Today, we did a DNA study and Carbon 14 dated the bones to discover they were from two different time periods.

A few years ago I heard him give a paper at the SBL annual meeting which argued that the Cave of the Letters is mentioned in the Copper Scroll. I'm looking forward to reading his new book.

No comments:

Post a Comment