25 February 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Four 1,900-year-old Roman swords found in Judean Desert

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced the discovery of four extremely well-preserved Roman swords hidden in a cave in the Judean Desert.

Dr. Asaf Gayer of the Department of the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Ariel University noticed the swords in a remote cleft in the cave’s upper portion, as he and other researchers analyzed a Hebrew ink inscription, potentially from the First Temple Period, which was discovered 50 years ago.

Experts believe were captured by the Judean rebels during the Bar Kochba revolt (132 to 135 C.E) and placed in a narrow crevice in the rock. Also called the Second Jewish Revolt, it was a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judea led by rebel leader Simon Bar Kochba.

“We’re talking about an extremely rare find, the likes of which have never been found in Israel,” Dr. Eitan Klein, one of the directors of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Judean Desert Survey, said in a video accompanying the announcement of the discovery. “Four swords amazingly preserved, including the fine condition of the metal, the handles, and the scabbards.”

Removing swords from the crevice Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

Three of the swords are 60 to 65 centimeters long; one sword is 45 centimeters long. The longer swords are identified as Roman “Spatha” swords; the shorter one is a ring-pommel sword. Preliminary examination concluded that these were standard swords employed by Roman soldiers stationed in Judea.

A pilum (a javelin-like weapon used for armor piercing) was also discovered. “The hiding of the swords and the pilum in deep cracks in the isolated cave north of Ein Gedi hints that the weapons were taken as booty from Roman soldiers or from the battlefield, and purposely hidden by the Judean rebels for reuse,” Dr. Eitan Klein, one of the directors of the Judean Desert Survey Project, said.

The cave near En Gedi where the swords were found. Photo: Emil Aladjem Israel Antiquities Authority

According to the press release, “at the entrance to the cave, a Bar Kokhba bronze coin from the time of the revolt was found, possibly pointing to the time when the cave served for concealing the weapons”—though it can’t be concluded that the swords are from the Bar Kokhba Revolt itself.

This discovery highlights the danger of losing artifacts to looters. Amir Ganor, director of the IAA Looting Prevention Unit, said:

“I shudder to think how much historical knowledge would have been lost had the looters reached the amazing artifacts in this cave before the archaeologists. This time, thanks to the national project initiated by the Israel Antiquities Authority, we managed to get there before the looters, and to save these fascinating finds for the benefit of the public and researchers around the world.”

The sword stashed away in a hidden spot in the cave. Photo: Dafna Gazit Israel Antiquities Authority

Eli Eskosido, director of the IAA, said:

This is a dramatic and exciting discovery, touching on a specific moment in time. Not all are aware that the dry climatic conditions pertaining in the Judean Desert enable the preservation of artifacts that do not survive in other parts of the country. This is a unique time capsule, whereby fragments of scrolls, coins from the Jewish Revolt, leather sandals, and now even swords in their scabbards, sharp as if they had only just been hidden away today.

The Shafted Pilum. Photo: Dafna Gazit Israel Antiquities Authority

The preliminary article on the swords is published in the volume “New Studies in the Archaeology of the Judean Desert: Collected Papers,” which explores new archaeological finds discovered in the Judean Desert Survey Project. A conference launching the book is taking place Wednesday in Jerusalem.

IAA

Cover Photo: Ring-pommel sword stashed in the Cave. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

Related Articles

Was Stavanger Cathedral Built on a Viking Settlement?

4 June 2021

4 June 2021

Archaeologists have discovered animal bones and habitation evidence underneath the northern part of Stavanger cathedral that they believe date from...

The remains of a very uncommon’ dinosaur species have been discovered in Brazil

20 November 2021

20 November 2021

Researchers have uncovered the remains of a toothless, two-legged dinosaur species that lived 70 million years ago in Brazil, calling...

Shocking Images Appeared As The Waters Recede

8 February 2021

8 February 2021

As the dams recede, the remains of the flooded settlements come to light. This time Kayseri witnessed these images that...

The Earliest Evidence of a Domesticated Dog in the Arabian Peninsula

9 April 2021

9 April 2021

Dogs have been the best friend of humans since ancient times. Although it is not known exactly when dogs were...

A 2000-year-old Rare Artifact was Found Near Poltava

25 May 2021

25 May 2021

Scarab beetle pendant found near the Ukrainian city of Poltava. During the building of the H-31 motorway in the Poltava...

China’s 4300-Year-Old Ancient Pyramids

26 March 2021

26 March 2021

Shaanxi Province in Northwest China is famous for its rich archaeological treasures. Among the many sites discovered in Shaanxi, the...

A rare Ogham inscription found on Pictish stone in Scottish Kirkyard

8 November 2022

8 November 2022

A Pictish carved stone cross slab with a rare inscription in the early medieval ogham language has been discovered in...

Viennese Archaeologists Find LEGIO XIII GEMINA Bricks

1 February 2024

1 February 2024

The fourth oldest school in Vienna, the Kindermanngasse Elementary School, is being completely renovated. As part of the renovation of...

Assyrian Art at Getty Villa

22 June 2021

22 June 2021

The Getty Villa in Malibu, California’s arts complex is showcasing superbly-restored gypsum reliefs from the Assyrian Empire’s palaces for its...

The altar of Zeus Temple discovered in western Turkey

1 September 2023

1 September 2023

Archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Magnesia, located in the western province of Aydın’s Germencik district, have uncovered the...

The first Bull Geoglyph discovered in central Asia

29 September 2021

29 September 2021

Archaeologists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History of Material Culture (IIMK RAS) and LLC Krasnoyarsk Geoarchaeology discovered...

Venice of the Pacific: The mysterious Micronesian ruins of Nan Madol

12 July 2022

12 July 2022

Sometimes art and architecture challenge our perceptions of what was formerly thought to be feasible and what our forefathers were...

A 1600-year-old writing set was unearthed in the city of Bathonea, which has the oldest ancient port in Istanbul

21 August 2022

21 August 2022

During the Istanbul Bathonea excavations, a 1600-year-old writing set containing a miniature vessel, a bone writing pen, and an inkwell,...

Authorities in New York have been accused by leading academics of repatriating fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon

19 November 2023

19 November 2023

Leading academics from France and the United Kingdom have accused New York authorities of returning fake Roman artifacts to Lebanon....

1,400-year-old temple from the time of the East Anglian Kings discovered at Suffolk royal settlement

21 November 2023

21 November 2023

Archaeologists have uncovered a possibly pre-Christian temple from the time of the East Anglian Kings at Rendlesham, near Sutton Hoo...