Archaeologists Discover 4 Well-Preserved Roman Swords in Dead Sea Cave

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Researchers have found four Roman-era swords in a recent excavation near the Dead Sea. The weapons feature steel blades and hilts and scabbards made of wood and leather.

Experts say the swords were “exquisitely preserved” after 1,900 years stored in a desert cave.

Israeli archaeologists found the four swords and the head of a javelin that were likely stashed by Jewish rebels during an uprising against the Roman Empire in the 130s, the Associated Press reports.

Archaeologists were working as part of the Judean Desert Survey, a project that aims to excavate caves near the Dead Sea.

“At the back of the cave, in one of the deepest parts of it, inside a niche, I was able to retrieve that artifact– the Roman pilum head, which came out almost in mint condition,” said Asaf Gayer, an archaeologist with Ariel University.

Researchers have also found hundreds of ancient parchment fragments that have been exceptionally preserved because of the caves’ stable, cool and dry climate.

Previously, archaeologists had found an inscription near the desert oasis of Ein Gedi.

It’s believed that the swords were likely crafted in a different European province and then brought to Judea by soldiers, said Guy Stiebel, a Tel Aviv University archaeologist who studies Roman military history.

“Each one of them can tell you an entire story,” he said. Future research will study who made the weapons and the origin of the materials sourced to craft them. Determining these factors will help uncover more information about the history of the objects and the people – Roman soldiers and Jewish rebels – who owned them.

“They also reflect a much grander narrative of the entire Roman Empire and the fact that from a small cave in a very remote place on the edge of the empire, we can actually shed light about those mechanisms is the greatest joy that the scientist can have,” he said.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Vicvaz, this is a stock image.

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

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