Discoveries from the "Cave of the Letters"
In 1960- 61, archaeologist Yigael Yadin conducted excavations of
the "Cave of the Letters" in Nahal Hever, south of Ein
Gedi, where he revealed finds from the period of the Bar Kokhba
Revolt (132- 135 CE). The artifacts indicate that the cave served
as a place of refuge for a group of inhabitants from En Gedi, who
had been forced to flee the Roman army following the failure of
the Revolt. The Romans pursued them, establishing a camp on the
cliff above the entrance to the cave. There was thus no possibility
of escape, for whoever dared exit the cave would have been struck
down by Roman arrows. We do not know exactly how the fugitives met
their fates, but the seventeen skeletons discovered at the site
indicate that they died within the cave, leaving behind a wide variety
of rare finds: documents and exchanges of letters in Hebrew and
Aramaic between the commander of the Bar Kokhba Revolt and the commanders
at En Gedi, as well as the personal archive of a woman named Babata.
On view here are the everyday belongings of those who hid in the
cave: household items, clothing, keys, and vessels. Of particular
importance are the objects made of organic materials, which were
preserved thanks to the dry climate of the Judean desert. The finds
shed light on the lifestyle of the inhabitants of this region at
the beginning of the 2nd century CE.
The finds from the "Cave of the Letters" are
now permanently exhibited at the Second Temple Period gallery, The