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November 22, 2002

Archeologists find artifacts from Bar Kochba revolt

Findings show the long history of a people determined to be free
A cave survey in Israel's Judean Desert has uncovered papyrus scrolls, coins and arrow heads from the period of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the second century, archeologists said Tuesday.

The scrolls, while believed to be less significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the region in 1947, will shed light on the time of the revolt led by Simon Bar Kochba, said Zvika Tzuk, an archaeologist for the National Parks Authority.

The artifacts were found in the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, near the Dead Sea, by a team of archeologists headed by Professor Hanan Eshel from Bar Ilan University and Amos Frumkin of Jerusalem's Hebrew University.

Historians believe the rebels fled to the desert after the Romans crushed the revolt, hiding out in hillside caves dotted throughout the rugged terrain.

Rappelling into a cave, archaeologists found the papyrus scrolls as well as coins bearing the name "Shimon," a reference to Bar Kochba, the leader of a 132-135 rebellion, the parks authority said. Archeologists also found a dozen wooden arrows and metal arrowheads, and scraps of cloth.

The scrolls, as yet unopened, have been given to the Israel Museum, where they will be researched.

Between 1947-65, archeologists discovered hundreds of ancient Jewish documents at Qumran, the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Decades later, archeologists believed all the scrolls in the area had been found until the discovery of a number of documents near Jericho between 1986-93.

"After two generations where we didn't discover anything, this find is very important," Tzuk said.