Friday, December 5, 2014

The Bar-Kokhba Revolt

The Bar Kokhba revolt was a rebellion of the Jews of Judea Province, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire and fought circa 132–136 CE. It was the last of three major Jewish–Roman wars.

Although Jewish Christians hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the Jews. The war and its aftermath helped differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism.

A cluster of papyrus containing Bar Kokhba's orders found in the Judean desert.
In September, 2009 the largest cache of rare coins ever found from the period of the Bar-Kokhba revolt was discovered in a cave by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University.

Most of the coins were overstruck as rebels' coins on top of Roman coins. The new imprints show Jewish images and words (for example: the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem and the slogan "for the freedom of Jerusalem"). Other coins that were found, of gold, silver and bronze, are original Roman coins of the period minted elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
The significance of this particular cave relates to its size, its proximity to Betar, and the large collection of coins found there. Ancient Betar was the site of the "last stand" of the rebels in their struggle against Roman rule in Judea from 132-35 CE.

"This discovery verifies the assumption that the refugees of the revolt fled to caves in the center of a populated area in addition to the caves found in more isolated areas of the Judean Desert."
Last year news broke of a hoard in the vicinity of Qiryat Gat, Israel. Archaeologists uncovered about 140 gold and silver coins along with gold jewelry in a pit in the courtyard of an exposed building dating to the Roman and Byzantine period.

A wealthy woman likely stashed the hoard of coins and jewelry in the pit due to the impending danger of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, the researchers suggest. In 132, a revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread from Modi'in across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.

The outbreak took the Romans by surprise. Hadrian called his general Sextus Julius Severus from Britain, and troops were brought from as far as the Danube.

The struggle lasted for three years before the revolt was brutally crushed in the summer of 135 AD. After losing Jerusalem, Bar Kokhba and the remnants of his army withdrew to the fortress of Betar, which also subsequently came under siege. The Jerusalem Talmud relates that the numbers slain were enormous, that the Romans "went on killing until their horses were submerged in blood to their nostrils"

The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 A.D.

“This hoard includes silver and gold coins of different denominations, most of which date to the reign of the emperor Trajan. This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba Revolt.

It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it,”