Biblical Archaeology Review 33:5, September/October 2007

Village Razed, Rebel Beheaded

How Hadrian Suppressed the Second Jewish Revolt at Horvat ‘Ethri

By Boaz Zissu

The second–third-century Roman historian Cassius Dio claimed that the Romans destroyed 985 Jewish villages while suppressing the so-called Bar-Kokhba Revolt, the Second Jewish Revolt. I believe we have excavated one of those villages at a site now known as Horvat ‘Ethri, just 15 miles southwest of the rebel capital at Bethar.1

At the end of the revolt, the village of ‘Ethri was violently destroyed and burned. Men, women and children were buried in a mass grave. Examination of the bones reveals that one of the victims was beheaded; the sword left cut marks on the vertebrae of his neck.

Perhaps most significantly, our excavation of Horvat ‘Ethri has lifted from obscurity a typical Jewish village that experienced Roman military might in both the First Jewish Revolt (66–70 C.E.), in which the Temple was destroyed, and the Second Jewish Revolt, led by Bar Kokhba (132–135 C.E.).

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