Israeli archaeologists have discovered four Roman swords and a javelin in a cave in the Judean desert, preserved for nearly 1900 years.
Archaeologists believe the ancient weapons were used during the 2nd century ‘Bar Kokhba‘ revolt of Jews against the Romans.
“It’s a very unique and important discovery, which is unprecedented in Israel” Israel Antiquities Authority Director Eitan Klein told reporters at an event where the weapons were displayed.
“We suppose that Jewish rebels took the Roman swords and a javelin as booty from Roman units or they were collected in the battlefield and they were hidden in a cave as a cache of swords to be used or reused in future battles.”
“Obviously, the rebels did not want to be caught by the Roman authorities carrying these weapons. We are just beginning the research on the cave and the weapon cache discovered in it, aiming to try to find out who owned the swords, and where, when and by whom they were manufactured.”
The weapons were found tucked deep behind a wall of stalactites and preserved in wooden and leather scabbards.
Klein did not give an exact location for fear of looting. He said only that the discovery was made in Israeli territory, close to the Ein Gedi nature reserve. Unfortunately, looting is causing major cultural heritage problems all over the world. That’s why precautions are taken, such as not revealing the location.
“We are just beginning to understand what these could be,” said Guy Stiebel, professor at the Tel Aviv University who specialises in the Roman empire. “It’s not just about the Jews: it’s about the Romans; it’s about the whole Roman Empire.”
Stiebel says these pieces were probably not made locally. Instead, they had traveled long distances with their owners, probably in a distant European province.
Apart from that, he said, the weapons are still intact with their iron blades, sheaths and grips. An important reason for this is that the climate in the Judean desert is very arid and dry.