Finds from the Bar-Kokhba Revolt on the Cliffsides of Wadi Chariton (Nahal Teqoa)

Dvir Raviv, Amos Frumkin, Micka Ullman, Roi Porat, Boaz Langford, Boaz Zissu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wadi Chariton (Nahal Teqoa), which drains the southeastern part of Bethlehem and flows through the area of Herodium to the Dead Sea, is known for its numerous karstic caves. Among them is the longest limestone cave in Israel, Chariton Cave. Since the nineteenth century, these caves have been the focus of geographical, archaeological and speleological studies. Archaeological excavations have revealed that some of the caves in this area were occupied since the Lower Paleolithic and that human activity continued through long time spans, until the present. Surprisingly, former explorations did not report finds from the Roman period in Wadi Chariton caves. This is puzzling, given the fact that Jewish rebels made extensive use of karstic caves for refuge during the two wars against Rome. Furthermore, Wadi Chariton is geographically located near the heart of Judaea and next to Herodium, an important administrative centre during the revolts and a site of battles and siege operations. In 2019 we surveyed several caves located in the cliffs along the eastern bank of Wadi Chariton. Archaeological finds retrieved from two of them, Haner Cave and Hapitria Cave, were attributed to the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. The most outstanding find is a tetradrachm (sela') struck by the rebels in the third year of the revolt. Thus, archaeological remains from the Roman period are reported here for the first time, shedding light on the spatial and tactical organization of the Bar-Kohkba rebels, near their headquarters at Herodium. Earlier periods are also represented in these caves, including rich Late Chalcolithic and Intermediate Bronze Age assemblages, attesting to the importance of the area and its caves as a focus for human activity during these periods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-223
Number of pages20
JournalIsrael Exploration Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

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