Secrets of the Cave of Letters

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2004-07-30
  • Publisher: Humanity Books
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One of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries in Israel took place in 1960, when the legendary Yigael Yadin excavated a cave in the Dead Sea area subsequently called the "Cave of Letters." Located near the site of the famous Dead Sea scrolls, the cave contained the largest cache of ancient personal correspondence and documents ever uncovered in Israel. Among the evidence were letters from Bar Kokhba, a messianic leader of a Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the 2nd century whose meteoric rise and fall in some ways parallel the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In 1997, archaeologist Richard A. Freund and a team from the University of Hartford returned to the Cave of Letters and discovered exciting new evidence about the use of the cave. Freund presents these intriguing findings in an absorbing account that combines fascinating history with elements of suspense and mystery. Using modern technology, the Hartford team established that the cave was not only inhabited in the 2nd century but in the first century as well. It was used as a repository of bronze artifacts from the temple of Jerusalem, which the Romans destroyed during the First Jewish Rebellion of 66-70. Freund and his colleagues also suggest a connection between the Cave of Letters and the most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the mysterious Copper Scroll, an ancient list of temple treasures. Finally, he shows how in modern times Yadin and others used the heroic Bar Kokhba as an inspiration for forging the modern State of Israel's new self-identity. Bringing together an exciting tale of discovery, the history of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, and the politics of the modern Middle East, Secrets of the Cave of Letters is both educational and an engrossing page-turner. Richard A. Freund (West Hartford, CT) is Maurice Greenberg Professor of History and Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. He is the editor of and a contributor to Bethsaida: A City by the North Shore of the Sea of Balilee, Bethsaida Excavations Project Reports and Studies, Volumes I and II.

Author Biography

Richard A. Freund is Maurice Greenberg Professor of History and director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford.

Table of Contents

Preface 9(8)
Acknowledgments 17(10)
Chronology 27(8)
Secrets of the Cave of Letters
The Origins of a Cave
Bar Kokhba: The Second Coming of the Messiah?
The Minimalists and the Maximalists of Archaeology and the Bar Kokhba Rebellion
Returning to the Cave: The Road from Bethsaida to the Dead Sea
The Copper Scroll and the Dead Sea Caves
The ``Cave of the Column'' and the Cave of the Letters
X Marks the Spot: The Rest of the Story
A Tale of Two Caves: Babatha and Her-story
Future Secrets of Dead Sea Caves Research
Notes 245(16)
Bibliography 261(12)
Index 273

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