Comprehensive coverage

For the first time: evidence of the Maccabean rebellion against the Greeks was uncovered in the Judean desert

In an excavation in a cave in the Nahal Darga Reserve, a rare treasure was discovered - a wooden box containing 15 silver coins from the time of King Antiochus IV *It seems that the person who buried the box in the cave fled to it, hoping to collect his property at the end of the rebellion

The coin cache. Photo: Shai Halevi, Antiquities Authority
The coin cache. Photo: Shai Halevi, Antiquities Authority

Evidence of a dramatic moment in the annals of the Jewish people was discovered in the Judean desert: a wooden box containing 15 silver coins, dating to the days before the Maccabean revolt. The box was buried in four caves in the Nahal Darga Reserve about 2200 years ago and was discovered during excavations last May.
Since then, the rare treasure has been researched, and now, as part of Israel's heritage week marked on Hanukkah, the treasure will be displayed to the public at the Hasmonean Museum in Modi'in.

As part of the excavation and survey project of the Judean Desert caves managed by the Antiquities Authority and the Archeology Department of the Civil Administration in cooperation with the Jerusalem Ministry and Heritage, a rescue excavation was conducted in the caves of the Quartet in the months of March-May 2022. Among the many findings, an ancient wooden box made with a lathe, unlike any other, was discovered in a crack inside a cave in the state treasury.

After opening the cap of the vessel, it became clear that its upper part was filled with loosened soil and small stones that were crammed up to its rim. Under this layer of soil, a large piece of woolen cloth dyed purple was found. The piece of cloth covered 15 silver coins arranged in the lower part of the box, and between them were placed pieces of sheep's wool.

The treasure, which was cleaned by the Antiquities Authority's antiquities management department, includes a uniform group of silver tetradrachm coins, minted by Ptolemy VI, King of Egypt. This king, reigned over Egypt at the same time as his uncle - Antiochus IV ("Epiphanes"), who reigned over the Seleucid kingdom, and in it A.I. The three earliest coins in the hoard were minted in 176/5 BC, while the later coin in the hoard dates to 171/170 BC. On one of the coins was found a handwritten engraving of the name "Shalmai" in Aramaic script.

According to Dr. Eitan Klein, the treasure researcher on behalf of the Antiquities Authority together with Dr. Gabriela Bichovski, coin expert at the Antiquities Authority, "It is interesting to imagine who the man is who fled to the cave and hid his private property in it with the intention of returning. It seems that due to the events of the time, the man was killed in the battles, and he did not come back to take his property, he waited for us for almost 2,200 years. This is a unique, unparalleled find, which is the first and clear archaeological evidence that the caves of the Judean desert were used as an area of ​​activity for Jewish rebels or refugees in the days preceding the Maccabean revolt or at the beginning of the revolt."

According to Dr. Klein, the books of Maccabees describe some significant dramatic events at that time, which might have sent people to bury their possessions in the desert until anger passed. One explanation could be the looting of the temple vessels by Antiochus IV and the destruction of the walls of Jerusalem in the years preceding the Hasmonean rebellion. Another explanation may be the religious decrees imposed on the Jewish people in 167 BC.
The book of XNUMX Maccabim tells about a group of Jews who fled to hide in the desert from the religious decrees imposed on the Jews:  "Then many who sought justice and justice went down to the desert to sit there. They and their sons and their wives and their children because evils have multiplied upon them. And he told the king's men and the army that were in Jerusalem in the city of David that people who had passed the king's commandments had gone down to hide in the wilderness. And many chased after them and overtook them and encamped against them and waged war against them on the Sabbath day... and they and their wives and their sons and their possessions died, about a thousand human souls. (XNUMX Maccabees XNUMX:XNUMX-XNUMX).

According to Amir Ganor, the director of the archaeological dig in the cave on behalf of the Antiquities Authority: "The survey and excavation project that the Antiquities Authority has been conducting in the Judean Desert for the past six years is proving itself, and as a result of it we were able to save thousands of archaeological findings from destruction and looting of antiquities, including fragments of biblical scrolls, arrowheads from the Bar Kochba revolt, an entire 10,500-year-old basket, and more. "

According to the Minister of Construction and Housing, Jerusalem and Heritage, Zeev Elkin: "Just before Hanukkah, the exciting discovery in the Judean desert is a symbolic event, which once again teaches us about the importance of our activity in the field of heritage sites. The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage under my leadership has invested millions of shekels in recent years in surveying the caves in the Yehuda Desert, and in cooperation with the Antiquities Authority and KMT Archeology has worked to rescue and preserve many heritage sites in the Yehuda Desert and the Yosh, and I congratulate all the partners for the important activity. During Hanukkah Heritage Week, dozens of sites will be opened to the public with unique activities for families and children, including the possibility to see the new discovery at the Hasmonean Museum in Modi'in, and I invite all the people of Israel to visit and enjoy the national heritage.'

According to Eli Escozido, director of the Antiquities Authority, "The cache of coins that we reveal to the public as part of the Israel Heritage Week events stirs the imagination, and connects us directly to those days - at this time. These are the Hanukkah fees that the Antiquities Authority gives to the people of Israel and the State of Israel. I invite the public to join and volunteer in our excavation operation in Merat Moravat during December. We believe that the cave has not yet said the last word."

According to Hanania Hizami, archeology staff officer in the Civil Administration, "The historical discovery of the coins from the time of Antiochus IV constitutes another layer of the extensive and special work of the KMT Archeology unit in the Civil Administration. We will continue to work tirelessly for the preservation of all archeological places in Judea and Samaria; And on the other hand, we will not stop searching and digging to find historical discoveries like this.'

More of the topic in Hayadan:

3 תגובות

  1. How is this evidence of rebellion? All there is here are coins that someone left in the cave. This could for example be someone who paid a smuggler who was caught and executed before collecting the payment.

Leave a Reply

Email will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismat to prevent spam messages. Click here to learn how your response data is processed.