Biblical Archaeology Review 24:2, March/April 1998

Babatha’s Story

Personal archive offers a glimpse of ancient Jewish life

By Anthony J. Saldarini

The column of Roman soldiers marched slowly south along the western shore of the Dead Sea toward En-Gedi, one of the region’s major governmental and commercial centers and a stronghold of Simon Bar Kosiba,a leader of the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome. Two years earlier, in 132 C.E., Bar Kosiba had expelled from the city the Roman officials and the unit of the Roman army stationed there, the First Thracian Military Cohort. Now, after numerous skirmishes and running battles, the Roman army had pushed Bar Kosiba’s rebels out of Jericho (about 30 miles to En-Gedi’s north) and the Thracian cohort, with the aid of other Roman army units, was about to retake En-Gedi.

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