The Documents from the Bar-Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters: Hebrew, Aramaic and Nabatean-Aramaic Papyri Judean Desert Studies 3Edited by Yigael Yadin, Jonas C. Greenfield, Ada Yardeni, Baruch A. Levine (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society; Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University; Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, 2002). Text volume: 422 pp.; 92 plates in a separate volume, $132 plus $18 shipping. Available from the Biblical Archaeology Society (1–800-221–4644) for $115 plus $13 shipping.
It was late 1959 and the unflappable, calming secretary of the Israel Exploration Society, Joseph Aviram, was trying to organize the always contentious Israeli archaeological community for a four-part expedition to the Judean Desert. Ancient manuscripts had been coming onto the antiquities market that were rumored to have been found by Bedouin in the so-called Southern Caves, south of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls had been found. Qumran was in territory then controlled by Jordan. The Southern Caves, however, were in Israel. Israeli archaeologists agreed on one thing: A serious coordinated search should be mounted to explore these caves where additional manuscripts might still be hidden.