Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Skeletons of Bar Kochba Heroes to Be Given Traditional Burial

March 29, 1961
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Traditional Jewish burial will be given to the skeletons of Jewish martyrs discovered in caves where they died nearly 1,800 years ago while fighting the Romans under Bar Kochba, in the last futile revolt against the Roman conquerors of Palestine, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion announced today.

The Prime Minister made his announcement after inspecting the sites where the skeletons were discovered, in the Judean hills, Mr. Ben-Gurion visited four sites where archaeological teams are now at work under the direction of Prof. Yigael Yadin of the Hebrew University.

The diggings have shed new light on the revolt led by Bar Kochba during the period 132-135 of the Common Era, according to scientists with the expedition. Among the remains are skeletons of children as well as the skeletal remains of adults, showing that entire families holed up in the caves during the fighting.

On hilltops surrounding the caves, Roman posts were discovered, indicating where the conquerors laid siege to the Jewish fighters. Inside the caves, the archaeologists have found articles left by the besieged, including plates and ornaments wrapped in matting and tied with string. These articles remained intact because the air in the caves is dry. However, the dryness of the air is the factor that led to the suffocation of the besieged Jews.

The burial of the skeletons, Mr. Ben-Gurion said, will take place on a cliff-top above Wadi Hever, near the site where the last Jewish resistance battles were fought by Bar Kochba and his followers.

Recommended from JTA