Bar Kochba-era Treasure Uncovered in Judean Hills Cave

Silver coins minted by Jewish rebels included inscriptions such as 'For the liberation of Jerusalem.'

Ofri Ilany
Ofri Ilany
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Ofri Ilany
Ofri Ilany

An unusually large cache of antique coins and weaponry, dating from the time of the Bar Kochba revolt, was uncovered by Israeli explorers in a deserted cave in the Judean hills.

The hoard of 120 rare coins and various weapons was hidden within a deep cave and discovered by Bar-Ilan University and Hebrew University researchers.

This is the first time that an archeological dig has been able to locate such a large collection of coins dating from the Bar Kochva revolt (132 CE - 135 CE).

The coins were found during research conducted by speleologists Amos Frumkin and Boaz Langford of the Cave Research Unit in the Department of Geography of the Hebrew University and Dr. Boaz Zissu and Prof. Hanan Eshel of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University.

Most of the coins were made of silver, minted by the rebels using the Roman currency used at the time.

The Roman emblems and inscriptions were wiped clean during the coins' re-minting, replaced by Jewish symbols and slogans such as "The second year of Israel's liberation," and "For the liberation of Jerusalem."

Other coins in the stash are Roman gold coins, minted in Israel as well as throughout the Roman Empire.

It is estimated that the hoard was hidden in the cave during the Bar Kochba revolt after the Jewish fugitives had deserted their settlements or after a battle with the Roman army.

According to Prof Frumkin the "value of the hoard, the size of the cave and its proximity to the revolt's epicenter in the Beitar area speak volumes of the importance this cave had to the fugitives."

"The find confirms the hypothesis that revolt fugitives escaped to nearby caves, as well as more remote caves in the Judean Desert," Frumkin said, adding that the cache would have "great significance in understanding the Bar kochba revolt, of which there is limited historical information."

The Judean Hills cave in which the hoard was found includes a hidden compartment, accessible from a narrow, slippery and hazardous crack, which was first found by pioneering speleologist Gideon Mann.

Explores crawling down the fracture were led to a hidden hall, which served as a hiding place for Jewish fighters during the revolt and in which the cache had remained hidden for close to 1,900 years.

All of the coins were preserved in relatively good condition, despite humid conditions inside the cave.

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