JERUSALEM, Israel – Archaeologists in Israel have found a weapons cache from almost two thousand years ago, about 50 years after the Second Jewish Temple was destroyed.
Scientists have labeled it a "sensational find": the discovery of four 1,900-year-old swords, along with a pilum – a roman javelin – in an Ein Gedi cave overlooking the Dead Sea.
Dr. Eitan Klein of Israel Antiquities Authority Theft Prevention Unit, told CBN News why the find is so sensational. "They are very preserved – extremely, beautifully," he said, "So we research all the assemblage of weaponry. And for now in this particular time of research, we assume probably that they were connected to some war, or a rebellion that took place in the land of Israel during the second century CE (Common Era.)"
Klein explained the reasons for the discovery's location.
"So, what we assume is that, the swords were taken as booty from the battlefield or stolen from (a) Roman Army unit, and were hidden in a small cave in order to be reused in future battles against the Romans," he speculated.
Klein also talked about what the weapons told him and the other archaeologists. "This is very exciting for me to find this kind of artifacts. It's once in a lifetime to find this kind of artifacts. And finding it's beautiful. And I'm very happy about that because it gives me,a story. It's a story that I can tell through the swords, through the findings. And the story is about war that took place here between Jews and Romans," he said.
Dr. Asaf Gayer, an expert in Land of Israel Studies at Samaria's Ariel University, discovered the stash, alongside Shay Halevi of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Boaz Langford from Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Earth Sciences.
"This is a unique find in the land of Israel itself," Gayer explained. "We know of swords that were (found) in this region, but never in such a great condition, still in their wooden scabbards with the leather that's surrounding them, with ropes that were used by the soldiers."
Gayer told us he was on a completely different mission when he discovered the swords.
"We went down to the cave, near Ein Gedi, in the Judean Desert, to re-image an ancient, Hebrew inscription inscribed in the cave wall," he recalled.
They dated the inscription to about the 7th Century B.C., to the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judea.
"And while we were taking images of the inscription with new technology, in one of the niches at the back of the cave on the inside on one of the steepest parts, I was able to reach down my hand and get out (the) head of a Roman spear in an excellent condition – almost without corrosion – almost, I would say, brand new."
They returned to the scene with another archaeology team and discovered the swords; and while they learned much from the weapons, Gayer believes the cave itself has a story to tell.
"So, we have a cave that's in use from centuries, and each generation uses it for a different cause," Gayer noted.
During the last 6 years, the Israel Antiquities Authority and other government ministries have investigated hundreds of caves, and carried out 24 excavations to save archaeological remains from potential looters.