Daily Mail has an interesting article (complete with several high-res pictures) about a cave system used by Jews in the late first century. The caves helped Jews fight against the Romans during two revolts; one revolt occurred around the time the temple was destroyed in Jerusalem (approx. 70AD) and a second revolt, known as the Bar Kokhba revolt, happened several decades later.

Bar Kokhba was a surname given to Simon Bar Kosiba by a Jewish sage who believed Simon might have been the Jewish Messiah. The result of the revolt was devastating to the Jews and many historians date the end of the revolt as the start of the Jewish desporia (which lasted for two millennia). The Roman historian Cassius Dio reported that 580,000 Jews were killed. Many more Jews were exiled, sold into slavery or died from disease and starvation. He also claimed 50 of their fortified towns and 985 villages were razed.

The caves are being excavated by Amos Frumkin, head of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Cave Research Unit. His team has been mapping the caves located at a site called Hirbet Madras (near the Sea of Galilee) for several decades. Their investigations have uncovered ancient weapons, trap doors and olive presses.

It’s a short, interesting read and the pictures really help animate what life must have been like for the Jews at the time. Many portions of the cave system are barely big enough to fit a person – certainly not a fully arrayed Roman soldier.

For an quick narrative on the Bar Kokhba revolt, check out this website. The caves are direct verification of the tactics used by the Jews in their fight against the Romans as reported by Cassius Dio:

The rebels did not dare try to risk open confrontation against the Romans, but occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, so that they would have places of refuge when hard pressed and could communicate with one another unobserved underground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light.
[Cassius Dio, Roman history 69.12.3]
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