Underwater Hebrew tablet reveals Biblical-era ruler of Judea

The stone, dating to the second century, was found underwater at Tel Dor, south of the city of Haifa.

(University of Haifa)

A stone found off the coast of Israel has finally revealed the name of the ruler during one of the most iconic moments in Jewish history: the Bar Kokhba revolt.

The plate dates from the second century A. D., a bloody time in the Jewish history as a fiery leader named Simon bar Kokhba led a failed rebellion against the Roman rulers . The large chunk of stone was found in an underwater site called Tel Dor, located about 18 km south of the city of Haifa. [Photos: 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument in Israel]

The area once housed the Biblical city of Dor, which was occupied until the fourth century. During the last 70 years, the site has yielded a wealth of pottery , anchors and other artifacts from ancient Israel. Ehud Arkin-Shalev and Michelle Kreiser, researchers of the Coastal Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Haifa, discovered the giant plate while the search in the water of the Arid nature reserve.

The inscription is clearly visible, even under the water, the researchers said. The team has finally decided to take the plate out of the water, to prevent damage to the inscription. Researchers discovered that the massive, 1,300-kg. plate had seven lines of the ancient Greek inscribed on it.

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“The stone probably formed the base of a statue from the Roman period. As far as we know, this is the longest inscription found underwater in Israel,” Assaf Yasur-Landau, Haifa University archaeologist who led the excavation, said in a statement.

Although researchers are not completely deciphered the text, they have already made two discoveries: The inscription is identified, the Roman prefect in charge of Judea, as Gargilius Antiques. Although the researchers had found on another inscription with this name, that the artifact does not mention the region, Antiques excluded. In addition, the inscription confirms the name of the province involved in the rebellion as Judea, who, until now, no inscription, immediately prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt was stated, the researchers said.

The inscription dates from a tumultuous time in Jewish history. The second temple was destroyed in A. D. 70 and in A. D. 132, simmering tensions between the Roman rulers of the province, and the Jewish residents boiled over again. At that point, the Jewish leader Simon bar Kokhba led a revolt against the Romans. During the four years of fighting, both sides sustained heavy casualties, and many Jews were eventually sold into slavery or scattered.

“Immediately after the Bar Kokhba revolt, the Romans decided to make the abolition of the province of Judea, and to destroy any mention of his name. The province was united with Syria into one province called Syria-Palestine,” Yasur-Landau said. “So what we have here is an inscription dated just before the Judea ceased to exist as a province under that name. Of the two inscriptions with the name of Judea, this is the last, of course. Because these findings are so rare, it is unlikely that we find many later inscriptions with the name Judea,”

Original article on Live Science .

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