One of the latest findings in the archeological world was recently revealed to the public in March this year in the village of Kfar Kana, North of Israel. Several subterranean galleries, passageways and pits were discovered leading scholars to believe that they were used as hiding places during the first Jewish war in the middle of the first century A.D. At first assumption, the tunnels seem they were very well planned in advance. One hypothesis could be that the Hebrews built those tunnels not only as a place of safety but also for protecting their belongings and preserving their history, similar to the Dead Sea scrolls found in caves. I also believe they were not specifically there for a war against the Romans. The Jewish people have been persecuted since the beginning of times of their history. In some regions of our modern world, they are still not welcome. The Hebrews were very protective of their culture, so is more likely that the galleries were constructed to shield themselves not only from Romans but from anyone that could rise against or persecute them any given time.
Throughout the excavations areas, archeologists found several pits not only on the ground but inside homes too. I presume the pits located inside the dwellings were there probably for easier transportation of supplies such as food and household materials, and for a more secure escape in case of a sudden enemy attack. Archeologists also found several jars inside the chambers, commonly used to store food at that time. Yardenna Alexandre, the archeologist in charge of the excavations, said “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.” Those people had suffered so much excruciating punishment from enemies through the centuries that if they were sensing new persecution, it would make perfect sense to start building secret tunnels to protect themselves.
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Alexandre said he thinks the pits and tunnels were there before the revolt. One of my theories is that the galleries were planned to store not only food and water but also home supplies such as pottery and maybe some clothing. I would also speculate further and say that they might even find ancient documents buried inside some of the jars. In the last century, a series of documents were found inside jars in caves around the Dead Sea. The documents were believed to be left there in an attempt to preserve them. According to the Century one Foundation the Dead Sea scrolls “appear to be the library of a Jewish sect. The library was hidden away in caves around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) as the Roman army advanced against the rebel Jews”. Perhaps there is a connection between the Dead Sea scrolls and the newfound tunnels.
The degree of preparation of the Ancient Hebrews is impressive. It certainly took time for them to build such a complex structure. It probably took several decades if not hundreds of years for them to get it done. Maybe there are other tunnels similar to those all over Jerusalem. It obviously required several workers to build that structure. I would say that the secret tunnels architectural plans and engineering were passed from one generation to another as a legacy. Possibly children were instructed early in life to continue their parent’s work on the tunnels and pits. It was a slow process for sure since it was a well-kept secret. Andrea Berlin, an archaeologist at the University of Minnesota said “I think it’s important and fascinating because it shows deliberate preparation. This evidences a kind of organization, planning, and subversiveness that we didn’t have any idea was going on”.
After Christianity started in the first years A.D, the Jewish people probably started preparing themselves to defend their Jewish faith. They went through numerous religious struggles and persecutions since they took possession of Canaan in 1200 B.C. In the rise of a new era, the Christian era, the Hebrews wanted to be prepared to escape from any attack. “This construction was very well camouflaged inside one of the houses,” Alexandre said.
The Hebrews did not want to be caught by surprise. Whether they were protecting themselves against the Philistines, Babylonians or Romans they wanted safety for their families and their culture against potential enemies. According to the Archeologists that are excavating the site, the galleries and chambers were built similar to an igloo; with a large base and little space on top, not even big enough to stand up straight. They found out that the tunnels were dug on top of a previously destroyed city, which is also a new discovery.
The remains of this ancient city found underneath the tunnels are believed to be part of Solomon’s kingdom before the separation of the Southern and the Northern tribes (around 970 B.C). Several artifacts were found at the excavation site such as pottery jugs; several animal bones and a ceramic engrave containing a lion figure. The lion is the symbol of the Hebrews from the tribe of Judah. According to some historians, Solomon was always favouring the tribe of the South, Judah. The tribes of the North decided to form their own kingdom, dividing Solomon’s empire forever.
The Hebrews of the first century B.C probably chose that location to build their tunnels for the plenty of resources available. Wood remains rocks and a location that enemies would certainly never find. Enemies would have no idea that underneath all that debris was such an intricate construction. Archeologist Andrew Overman, from Macalester College, Minnesota alleged “proof of the unrest and the conflict that happened, but it’s not necessarily a place where rebels were. I think it also may have been a place where people prepared to take cover”.
It was clear the Hebrews were carefully preparing themselves against any attacks. The Jewish people started to plan to defend themselves and also to flee if necessary. After the fall of Jerusalem with the destruction of their second temple in 70 A.D, the Jewish people dispersed to other parts of the world abandoning the region to only come back almost 2000 years later. They are coming a long way to preserve their beliefs and their culture, going through wars and rumours of wars for centuries and still fighting until this day for their right to stay in the land that their fathers inherited.
“Archaeologists find ancient Israel tunnels” – USA TODAY By Laura Resnick, The Associated Press. 14 March 2006. 23 July 2006 [http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2006-03-13-ancient-tunnels_x.htm]
“Underground Tunnels Found in Israel Used In Ancient Jewish Revolt” – National Geographic. Brian Handwerk for National Geographic News 15 March , 2006. 23 July 2006 [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0315_060315_jewish_revolt.html]
“25 Fascinating Facts About the Dead Sea Scrolls “ – CenturyOne Foundation 1996-2005. 23 July 2006 [http://www.centuryone.com/25dssfacts.html]
“First Jewish-Roman War” -Wikipedia 2006 Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 21 July 2006. 23 July 2006. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Jewish-Roman_War].
“Solomon.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 29 July 2006 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-6750>.
“Excavations conducted by the Antiquities Authority in Kfar Kana “ – Israel Antiquities Authority 13 March 2006. 30 July 2006. <http://www.antiquities.org.il/article_Item_eng.asp?sec_id=25&subj_id=240&id=1033&module_id=#as>
“Lion of Judah and Judaism” –Wikipedia 2006 Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 30 July 2006. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion_of_Judah>
“Romans destroy Jerusalem and Temple 70 AD” – AboutBibleProphecy.com 30 July 2006 <http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/e30.htm>
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