In the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba Revolt of 135CE, refugee Judaeans hid & perished in caves by the Dead Sea, hunted by Romans. It seems from the artefact record many were women - their clothing, cosmetics & jewellery boxes preserved. Even some texts survived providing a rare glimpse into the life of Babatha. But what about the others?
One of the hideouts, the 'Christmas Cave', was discovered & excavated by a British team, led by John Allegro, in 1961-1963, but the artefacts & photographic dossier have never been published, caught in the aftermath of the Six-Day War & international disagreements.
From her current Leverhulme-funded project, Prof. Joan Taylor reports the discovery, excavation & finds, using UK archives, & considers what the objects tell us about women's lives in this cave & others in the area.
Joan Taylor is Professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King’s College London, and winner of the Irene Levi-Sala Prize for a study of Israel’s archaeology for her book Christians and the Holy Places (1993). She has authored numerous books and articles, notably The Immerser: John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism (1997) and The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea (2006). She was Principle Investigator for the Leverhulme project on Dispersed Qumran Artefacts and Archival Sources, which led to the discovery of text on Dead Sea Scrolls ‘blank’ manuscript fragments held by John Rylands Library, University of Manchester.
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