Underground Tunnels Found in Israel Used In Ancient Jewish Revolt

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News
March 15, 2006

A series of underground chambers and tunnels recently found in Israel were likely used as refuges during the First Jewish Revolt, archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority announced.

Storage jars found in one pit were an apparent stockpile of foodstuffs for the uprising against Roman rule that began in A.D. 66.

Archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre directed excavations at the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kana—a Galilee-region site near the city of Nazareth in Israel (see map).

"The pits are connected to each other by short tunnels, and it seems that they were used as hiding refuges—a kind of concealed subterranean home—that were built prior to the Great Revolt against the Romans," Alexandre said in a statement.

The complex was located underneath homes and was probably accessed through the floors.

In the entire first century A.D. the Galilean community sat atop the ruins of a still-older Iron Age city.

Galilean Jews had to dig through some 5 feet (1.5 meters) of debris from that older settlement to excavate their underground passages. They reused stone from the destroyed city to build the igloo-shaped pits.

The ruins of the Iron Age settlement are also a new discovery. Sections of the city wall and buildings, which date to the tenth and ninth century B.C., have been exposed.

Alexandre suggested that this settlement, too, was likely sacked by some enemy force and only reinhabited during the first century A.D.

So far Alexandre's team has found pottery, animal bones, and other artifacts at the Iron Age site.

A ceramic seal was unearthed bearing the image of a lion, as well as a scarab beetle ornament featuring a man flanked by two crocodiles.

Site Suggests Organized Revolt

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