Monday, October 05, 2015

Bar Kokhba-era site vandalized

ISRAEL HAYOM: Bar Kokhba-era antiquities site razed by Palestinian vandals (Efrat Forsher). Ancient city in Gush Etzion was site of first discovery of one of the caves Bar Kokhba used for concealment during his second century revolt against Roman rule • Students at the Kfar Etzion Field School come across irreparable damage during field trip.
An antiquities site that served as an encampment for Jewish leader Shimon Bar Kokhba during his revolt against the Romans from 132 to 136 C.E. has been destroyed by Palestinian vandals.

Discoveries made at the Kiryat Arabia site, located near the village al-Arub in Gush Etzion, have been a vital source of information about the period of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, and its destruction is a blow to research efforts.

In 1968, a winding, branching cave was discovered at the site, the first of the system of caves where Bar Kokhba hid to be discovered. A few years later, the Kfar Etzion Field School began conducting excavations at the site under the guidance of Professor Yoram Tsafrir, which turned up exciting finds and shed light on the final days of the revolt.

The cave was originally dug beneath the ancient community of Kiryat Arabia, which is mentioned in scrolls found at Nahal Hever in the Judean Desert. The Nahal Hever scrolls also include military correspondence between Bar Kokhba and his fighters.

In one that apparently dates back to 134 C.E., Bar Kokhba orders a man named Yehuda Bar Menashe, who was in Kiryat Arabia, to supply him and his soldiers with the Four Species mandated by Jewish law (citron, palm, myrtle and willow) for the observance of the approaching Sukkot holiday. This demonstrates how strictly Bar Kokhba and his army followed the commandments of Jewish law, even under difficult circumstances.

The letter mentioned is P.Yadin 57. The location, vocalization, and meaning of the site named "Kiryat Arabia" is uncertain. It may or may not have to do with "Arabia" or "Arabs." It is also uncertain whether it is to be identified with the vandalized site. Also, the article does not make clear how the writer knows who did the vandalizing.

It is an ironic synchronicity that the vandalizing of a site that may be mentioned in P.Yadin 57, which letter also refers to preparations for the Festival of Sukkot, was discovered and announced during the Festival of Sukkot some nineteen centuries later.