Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Students excavate Second Temple site used by Bar Kokhba rebels

ARCHAEOLOGY: Students unearth a 2000-year-old Jewish settlement (Ynet News).
Boyer High School in Jerusalem will fund most of its youth delegation’s visit to Poland by working at archaeological digs. This week, the school’s students are helping unearth a site discovered in recent months: A rare and impressive array of ritual baths and underground systems used by rebels during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

Some 240 eleventh-grade students from Jerusalem’s Boyer High School have discovered an original and rewarding way of reducing their travel costs to Poland: Working for an entire week on archeological excavations at Ramat Beit Shemesh, far from their computers and air-conditioned classrooms.

The students are involved in unearthing exciting archeological finds at the site. In recent months, the remains of a Jewish settlement dating to the Second Temple period have been found to include an extensive complex of ritual baths and underground hiding refuges.

The excavations are being carried out with funding provided by the Ministry of Construction and Housing prior to the building of a new residential neighborhood in Ramat Beit Shemesh, in cooperation with the Israel Antiquities Authority and with the participation of pre-army course cadets.

The settlement, whose ancient name is unknown, has so far yielded eight ritual baths, cisterns, and hiding refuges, along with rock-hewn industrial installations. The houses themselves have not survived and their stones were taken to construct buildings in later periods.


Underneath the dwellings and rock-hewn installations, another surprising discovery was unearthed, dating to the time of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (second century CE)—a winding labyrinth of hiding refuges connected to sophisticated and elaborate complexes. In some of the underground complexes, the rebels breached a cistern to provide those in hiding with access to water. One of the caves also yielded intact ceramic jars and cooking pots that were probably used by the rebels. The finds show that the settlement continued to exist even after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.