History Set in Stone

Geology tends to be one of those subject you need to learn for the Tour Guide test, but which everyone dreads. Rocks were formed over periods of time which are difficult to grasp and change over similarly unfathomable time frames. Rocks are not alive, go through no changes, and do not interact with anything intentionally. Let’s face it, stones are….boring.

Genesis pushes us to walk the land of Israel and learn about it in order to gain a deeper appreciation and connect us to it. How can studying dead, cold rocks connect you to a place?

When you go around to different sites in Israel, one common thread that stands out is that the building here have been constructed throughout the ages from stone. The climate here is not conducive for massive forests to provide wood, nor are mud bricks a good long-term option for the downpours in the winter; stone became the building material of choice. Good news for us today, as rock structures last a long time and hundreds and thousands of years later we can reconstruct buildings from long ago.

capenaum-kfar-nahumStones can also give us clues as to the people who used the buildings. One place geology and rocks shed light on history is in the synagogue in Kfar Nahum. This impressive synagogue from the 4th/5th century has been reconstructed to its original size. It was constructed of white limestone, the most common stone in Israel, which occurs in many areas, but not here in Kfar Nahum. The entire rest of the town which has been preserved as it was more or less between the 1st and 4th century C.E. was made of the local stone, black basalt; and right there, in the center stood a white limestone massive synagogue.

We know that this town was populated at the time by Romans and Christians as well as Jews. The Christian Byzantine emperor, Theodosius II, made an edict in 423 C.E. stating that Jews were not allowed to build any new synagogues. Is this a case of an extant limestone building being moved lock, stock and barrel from somewhere else? Did the Jewish community of the town want a “designer” synagogue which would stand out in the town? One can only imagine the expense that went into the erection of the white synagogue here, the massive stones which needed to be moved from somewhere else, somewhere where limestone is found, to be placed here. The non-Jews living here at the time may not have felt so positively about this beautiful white synagogue being erected in their black basalt town.

I remember bringing my children here for the first time – children who were brought up in a religious Jewish environment.  Here, in Kfar Nahum, looking at the white synagogue in the black town, one can start to understand the world of the Mishnah and the Talmud.  For Christians, seeing the lavish synagogue can shed light on the social inequalities which fueled Jesus’ teachings.

Michaelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the test of the sculptor to discover it.” In Israel, every stone has a story inside of it and if you are attentive, even the actual rocks can give you their insights.

The Golden Age of Tzfat

When one visits Tzfat (Safed) today, one tends to focus on the spiritual, kabbalistic aspects of the city. Perhaps a side note or two will be dedicated to the fight over Tzfat in the week before Israel declared her independence or to the beautiful view. The booming economy of Tzfat in her Golden Age is not emphasized during most visits there; but, Tzfat, her kabbalah, art and history could not have existed without gold/money.

Although settlement in Tzfat goes back 4000 years or so, Tzfat as a regional center is only relatively recent. One-thousand years ago, the Crusaders took advantage of Tzfat’s location to build a massive fortress. Servicing the Crusaders was the first economy to take-off here, and relied on the natural resources around Tzfat. After the Crusaders were driven out, the Mamelukes occupied the fortress and the city continued to steadily grow.

After the Mamelukes were replaced by the Ottomans, two factors combined to give Tzfat a push economically – the Jews were expelled from Spain and the Ottomans united the Mediterranean basin under one government. The Jews who were banished from Spain were coming from the most advanced, enlightened area of the world, and brought with them their skills. And because there were no borders in the region, a world marketplace meant free trade. For political reasons, Jerusalem, the subject of Jewish yearning through the centuries, was off-limits. So these wandering Jews ended up in Tzfat, in the north, which has  landscape and natural resources similar to Spain. Not only did Jews arrive from Spain, but also from Italy with the inclusion of the Holy Land into the empire and the possibility of open travel (and a dash of Italian anti-semitism). Travelers to Tzfat in the early 1500’s describe a flourishing city with a strong industrial base. Rabbi Moshe Bassola writes in 1522, “There are four good occupations in Tzfat: weaver, silversmith, leather worker, and tanner. Also builders, and day laborers in these occupations will be paid well. Also tailors will earn a livelihood.”


Ten years later in 1535, another Italian arrival writes, “Whoever saw Tzfat 10 years ago and sees her again today, sees a wonderful change…There say there are more than 15,000 textile products produced here this year in addition to the exclusive cloths. And there are those who are producing the same quality as Venice; and every man and woman who works in wool earns a very good salary.”

Only with this financial backing, can the giants Rabbi Yosef Caro, Rabbi Isaac Luria (Arizal), Rabbi Shlomo Alkabez, Rabbi Chaim Vital and others develop their spiritual ideas and dedicate time to writing, composing and inspiring.

Next time you are in Tzfat, walking the cobblestone streets decorated in blue, breathing the crisp mountain air, enjoying the beautiful views and focusing on the mystical, remember that the spiritual development was only possible on such a grand scale because of industry. It is amazing that a city which was a world leader in the fashion and textile industry is today known for its spirituality and learning. This lesson can guide modern life to find a balance. On a personal and societal level, we need to work hard to be financially successful, but we don’t want to be remembered for how much we make, but for what we fund with what we have.

Discovering Gamla

Archaeology is a young science. Three hundred years ago no one cared about digging up, studying and preserving the past. The material remains of the past were only interesting as raw materials for the present. Learning about ancient structures and artifacts was culled from books as the centers of scientific learning were far away from the cradle of civilization.

With globalization and the ability to travel relatively easily, Europeans – the champions of science in modern times – spread out over the globe. One major goal was colonization, the control of trade routes, resources and people. As Europeans became exposed to the wonders of the Old World, their interest in discovering and controlling the past grew.

During those early days of archaeology in the 19th century, identification of sites from the past, especially Biblical sites, became a target for quests. Here, finally, was a way to connect to the biblical narrative in a visceral way. The Holy Land was scoured to identify as many ancient sites as possible and match them with writings about them which had been passed down through the ages. Digs in Jerusalem, Azekah, Gezer, Beit Shemesh, Beit Shean, Ashkelon, Emmaus, Masada and many other sites in ancient Israel matched places to names found in ancient sources.

Because everything was accessible, it could be assumed that Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, would have given up all her places relatively quickly. How difficult could it be?

So it is a bit surprising that the site of a dramatic story, important at the end of the Second Temple Era, was only conclusively identified 50 years ago. Gamla, a Jewish town in the Golan Heights 2000 years ago, was described in two ancient sources, Josephus, the Jewish/Roman historian; and Pliny the Elder, the Roman naturalist. In Gamla, the Jewish population, revolted against the Romans; and when their defeat was certain, threw themselves from the cliffs instead of surrender. Josephus and Pliny differ in their description of the location of the town. They also refer to landmarks which existed 2000 years ago but do not exist today, and whose exact location is unclear. So, this important town with its moving story, alluded archaeologists.


Most early archaeologists gave more credence to the accounts of Pliny and went by his description in the hunt for Gamla. Only after the Six Day War in 1968, did the search for  Gamla, come to an end. The Golan Heights underwent a proper archaeological survey after the war. Shmaryahu Gutman was surveying the land with kibbutznik and history buff Yitzchaki Gal.  As Gutman recalls,

“One day, Yitzchaki climbed up a certain height in the Golan, he examined his surroundings and decided, ‘Here was Gamla.’ He brought me to the village Deir Kruch and turned my gaze westward, into the Daliyot stream which splits into a southern branch and a northern branch; and in the distance – the Ginnosar Valley. We saw a spine with a northern slope, a southern slope, a cliff to the west and the possibility of a footpath going down to the east – exactly as Josephus wrote.”

Archaeologists spend most of their time today examining finds and rethinking ancient structures. They dig new areas of old sites or apply new technologies to get a more in-depth picture of the past.

It is refreshing to think that there still might be new frontiers in archaeology;  still places waiting to be discovered for those who open their eyes and read the texts carefully. Abraham, to whom God told to walk the land to really understand it, and archaeologist Adam Zartal, may his memory a blessing,  who said, “There is no high-tech solution for walking the land, meter by meter, with your own two feet,” give a model for discovery using the best tools we have – our feet, our eyes and our open mind.

Fundamentals in Hebron

Ownership and control of holy places is very much in the news these days in Israel.  Whether from committees sitting thousands of miles away or from local populations, hegemony over Israel’s holy sites is on the table.  Why people seek to “own” these sites is an interesting phenomenon and, I believe, fulfills a fundamental human need.

The human condition is  bleak – we are born, live and accomplish little, and die – quite depressing actually.  From the beginning, people have looked for a more optimistic picture.  The belief in something grander than oneself, whether that belief manifests itself as a religious faith or a belief in a cause, helps us overcome our own objective worthlessness.  Touching something physical which represents that ideal is a way to make tangible our connection to those beliefs.  Whether it was pilgrims chipping away at the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher in the past or today’s marcher saving the flag from the most recent Gay Pride Parade,  physical reminders of our causes tie us to them more strongly.

Earlier this month UNESCO declared that the center of Hebron, the Cave of the Patriarchs  is an endangered Palestinian World Heritage site.  The Cave of the Patriarchs is the final resting place of the founders of monotheism:  Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah.  This declaration is one more step in distancing Jews from their holy sites, by declaring that Jewish hegemony  is “dangerous” to the site.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Hebron’s Old City and holy site  is (sic) under threat due to the irresponsible, illegal, and highly damaging actions of Israel, the occupying Power, which maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion.”

The battle over controlling holy sites is nothing new in Hebron.  The structure over the cave was built by Herod as a fortress with a mostly empty center.  In this courtyard, the Byzantines constructed a church.  Unique for the Byzantines, who persecuted the Jews and banned them from Jerusalem altogether, here, in Hebron, they actually allowed Jews access to a part.


On the eve of the Moslem conquest in 638 C.E., the Byzantines destroyed the church and tried to fill in and hide the entrance to the cave to prevent the Moslems from discovering the tombs.  Perhaps to bargain for some ownership, the Jews divulged the location of the cave to Omar ibn Hattib, the Moslem leader.  In appreciation, he allowed the Jews to build a synagogue in the courtyard, next to the newly-constructed mosque.

This Jewish-Moslem partnership lasted until 1100 C.E. when both the mosque and the synagogue were destroyed by Godfrey of Bouillon.  The Crusaders built a church and a monastery, and banned Jews and Moslems from Hebron completely.

History is fickle and in 1266 C.E. Baybars, the Mameluke, turned his sights on this Crusader outpost, capturing it and denying entrance to all non-Moslems.  Jews who wanted to touch the place where their forefathers were buried were delegated to ascending towards the building no farther than the seventh step.  Few Jews entered the building in the next 700 years.

After the Six Day War in 1967, the State of Israel claimed ownership and opened the building to all.  In February, 1994, a Jewish terrorist open fired into a group of Moslems praying at the site.  He was killed on the spot, and his actions denounced by the State of Israel.  Jewish religious leadership condemned this terror attack.  The State of Israel, in order to provide safety and security,  negotiated a division of the building, whereby everyone has (almost constant) access to parts of the building, but in separate areas.

In the light of history, one has to wonder what the UN’s agenda is in the matter of Hebron.  Claiming that it is Israel who “maintains a regime of separation and discrimination in the city based on ethnic background and religion” is ignoring history and distorting facts.  I think the UN should be protecting the rights of all who call Abraham their father to visit this site.   After all, touching holy places is fundamental for us all.

Which Way to St. Stephen’s Gate?

Getting directions in Jerusalem can be confusing. So many place names are similar, and the same place can be known by many names. This is especially true of the gates of the Old City which have many different names. Whether you are looking for Jaffa Gate, David’s Gate, The Beloved’s (Abraham’s) Gate or Hebron Gate you will end up in the same place.

There is one address which actually applies to TWO Gates – St. Stephen’s Gate. According to Christian tradition, Stephen was a Hellenized Jew (thus the Greek name – Stephanus) living in Jerusalem. He got involved in social affairs when it was felt that the rabbinic authorities were not fairly allocating tax monies set aside for widows. The group which was spear-heading this protest movement were also supporters of Jesus. Because of his involvement against the rabbis, he was accused of blasphemy and brought before the Sanhedrin – the rabbinic court. He was sentenced to death, driven out of Jerusalem and stoned outside of the city of Jerusalem, making Stephen the first Christian martyr. This is the moment you realize that Monty Python actually did their homework.

st. stephen's stoning

Here’s where the tricky part comes. In which direction was Stephen driven out of the city?

According to an early Byzantine tradition, he was taken out of the city to the north and stoned at the current location of Saint-Etienne, a modern Catholic church close to the Damascus Gate which was built over a 5th century Byzantine church.

A later, 12th century, Crusader tradition places the stoning to the east outside of the Lion’s Gate, much closer to the location of the court and better fitting with the account in Acts, but with no tradition associated with it. When the Greek Orthodox Patriarchy started building a church in this spot dedicated to St. Stephen, they even found an ancient lintel dedicated to St. Stephen which was buried near the foundations. Unfortunately, that dedication was later shown to have been planted to create facts on the ground – literally – and was actually from Beer Sheva where there had been several Byzantine churches, one dedicated to St. Stephen.

As a result of these 2 traditions, some Christians refer to either the Damascus Gate or the Lion’s Gate as “St. Stephen’s Gate”. Because Jerusalem is not confusing enough. So if someone wants to meet you at St. Stephen’s Gate, make sure to ask, “Which one?”

Dead Sea Dead

As I was researching an oft asked question about placing stones on Jewish graves, I stumbled on a connection to one of my favorite sites, Qumran.  Qumran, near the Dead Sea, attracts many visitors.  Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the life of the Essenes, and a nice pit stop-on the way to  floating in the Dead Sea all combine to make it worthwhile.  During their visit to Qumran, most pass by the cemetery without stopping, but it gives us clues to one explanation of the contemporary custom.

If you follow my blog, you already know that I like cemeteries.  In Qumran, we find an unusual Second Temple era cemetery, unusual because it is the cemetery of simple, regular folk.  The dearly departed of Qumran were not buried in lavish caves, and no elaborate monuments were erected.  The cemetery here consists of ditches dug in the ground and filled in with stones.  These are not the tombs of the rich and famous that we are used to seeing in Jerusalem.  In other places, nature and neglect erased tombs of simple folk but in  remote, dry Qumran, these tombs remained  preserved.

The casual observer will be hard-pressed to see any sign of Qumran’s cemetery – at least at first.  As we turn off the paved path, I ask people to please try to refrain from stepping on any stones.  We walk east through what could be any Judean desert landscape – that is to say, rocks EVERYWHERE.  And then we stop, and look hard.

“See that group of stones?  That’s a Jewish grave.  And here’s another parallel to the first.  And another.  And another.”

qumran-cemetery-burialsWithin a minute, one realizes that he is in a cemetery with hundreds of graves. One-thousand one-hundred graves have been identified, each marked by a mound of stones.  These are 2000 year old grave-stones, literally.  Before there were headstones, these piles of stones marked the location of the grave and kept wild animals out.  Through the normal course of time and nature, some stones would disperse.

A 15th century Jewish almanac of traditions quotes a 11th century source which states that Jewish tradition includes placing stones on Jewish graves.  The tradition goes back even earlier when a visitor to a grave had a responsibility to maintain it.  That included replacing the piles of grave-stones marking the final resting place of their dearly departed.

The next time you are in Qumran visit the cemetery, and maybe even participate in maintaining an ancient Jewish tomb by (re)placing a stone or two.

Related sites (Second Temple Burial):

  • Dominus Flevit Church
  • Absalom’s Pillar
  • Sidonian Caves in Beit Guvrin National Park


Take Out the Trash, Please

As much as anything else, the production of trash marks human lives.  What we dump in the trash tells quite a lot about who we are and what our lives are like.  Digging through trash from the past gives us a snapshot into ancient life. trash

This last year, excavations have been targeted not at the random items left behind in the ancient sites of Halutza and Shivta, but rather at organized dumps from the past.  These Negev strongholds had central areas for dumping trash which were located at the edge of town. Within these dumps, exist archaeological layers.  If we look at the heydays of these cities, late Roman through Byzantine eras, we see an abundance of trash, as one would expect in a large, sophisticated society.  Especially interesting is the appearance of different pottery types and sources.

The trash during the late Roman through the early Byzantine era (until 450 C.E.) included pottery from the area of Aqaba (Eilat) on the the Red Sea.  There was a special kind of pottery produced there for storing rations for the 10th Roman Legion which was stationed on the Red Sea.

As the Byzantine period continues, we see this Aqaba pottery disappearing when the 10th Legion disperses.  In its place, Gaza ware comes onto the scene.  This type of pottery which was imported from the Mediterranean coast  was very common for storing wine.   Gaza ware was found in the trash heap during the Middle and Late Byzantine periods but not afterwards during the Moslem period, when wine was forbidden according to Islamic law.

Over half of the pottery from the Byzantine period in Halutza was Gaza ware.  Looking around today at the parched landscape, one may incorrectly think that they needed to import pottery because there was no local production.  Byzantine Halutza, however, had its own pottery factory.  Gaza ware was of superior quality and the wealthy Negev cities could afford to have the best storage for their wine.

This wealth is evident by the remains of foodstuffs found in the trash.  The Halutza populace was eating fish from the Red Sea and mollusks from the Mediterranean, attesting to the high socioeconomic level of Middle and Late Byzantine Halutza and Shivta.

At the end of the Byzantine era, for reasons which are as yet unconfirmed, the Negev cities become slowly depopulated.  During their slow demise, the people living in Halutza and Shivta stop taking their trash to the dump.  In my mind I think about the decline in Detroit.  When a population moves out and becomes impoverished, their trash accumulates nearer to their homes.  We find that in Shivta, the residents of this slowly failing city start dumping their trash in their neighbors’ abandoned homes and cease to use the municipal dump.  Turns out  what is thrown out and where it is deposited can say something about history.  We are creating an archaeological record when we tell our kids, “Please, take out the trash.”

Ordinary People

As part of some research I am doing for a friend, I came across Chaim and Rachel Mittleman, two ordinary people.  Someone in their family thought to video Chaim telling the story of his life and his coming to Israel.  Their story is touching, because it is the story of ordinary people.  Most of us go through life as ordinary people, and yet, most stories which are preserved are not of ordinary folk.

Yesterday, I stood at the base of the steps leading into Jaffa from the sea.  I tried to imagine myself as Rachel Mittlemen, just arriving from Poland in 1924.  She arrived as I did, pregnant, and driven by a dream.  I don’t know much about her life, and the snippets I do know are through her husband Chaim’s words.

She was the most beautiful girl in Lubartow, Poland, and when Chaim returned, broken, from the front, he wooed her.  Her hand was not to be won by just anyone, but rather by one who would follow her to the end of the world, to Palestine.  Chaim was not a Zionist, but a well-respected carpenter like his father.  Whether it was because of her beauty, or because of Chaim’s father’s brutal murder on the road outside of Lubartow at the hands of non-Jews, Chaim agreed.   I  don’t know what drove Rachel to make this condition.  Was she a Zionist, believing in an ancient promise? or a sufferer like Chaim  of a repressive present?  The two set out and because Rachel had a cousin living in Jaffa and Chaim had a trade, they were able to receive visas from the British to come to Palestine.

When they drew near to the Port of Jaffa, Chaim tells of his wonder in new sights and new people, new lold-jaffaanguages and new challenges.  Rachel silently gets off the boat and stands with her future ahead of her and within her.

I hear the story through Chaim’s words and think of her – a simple person, one of the many anonymous personalities living and building quietly, raising families.  But anyone who makes the journey, deciding to pick themselves up from one place and move to the Land of Israel, driven by an ideal, can relate to Rachel and see themselves in her.

On Yitzchak Sadeh Street in Tel Aviv, there is a building which bears a simple plaque attesting to Chaim and Rachel Mittleman building a house there.  A simple plaque memorializing simple people and simple acts.  Those of us whose simple acts build up the country can see ourselves in their story.  And as I stood at the foot of the steps leading from the sea into ancient Jaffa, it was Rachel Mittleman who ascended with me.

Dreams of our Fathers

Our ideals lead to dreams and actions, but not always to actualization.  Israel Beck was born in Bardichev, Ukraine in 1797.  He moved to Israel and settled in Tzfat in 1831 where he opened a printing business. His medical books were picked up by the Egyptian ruler, Ibrahim Pasha, who was suffering from a high fever.

After the Tzfat earthquake in 1837 destroyed Israel Beck’s printing press, and in appreciation for his books, the Pasha gave Beck his blessing to found a Jewish farming community on Jabal al-Jarmaq, Mt. Meron.  This was the first Jewish settlement founded by Jewish immigrants in the Land of Israel in modern times. The new agricultural settlement attracted a group of about 15 Jewish families..

Unfortunately, Ibrahim Pasha, Israel Beck’s friend, fell out of power, and the renewed Ottoman leadership did not allow for the Jewish community of Jarmaq to continue.  Like today’s tragedy with the families of Amona, it was government and narrow interest groups which were the end of Jarmaq’s Jewish community. Hurvat Beck on Mount Meron

Israel Beck moved with his family to Jerusalem in 1841. He writes recalling Jarmaq:

“There were in the village, gardens and orchards, but now there is nothing but forest and large rocks…I built houses in which to live, I made gardens and planted fields, and within the year, satisfied myself with the grain of the land.  In the second year, I had cows and flocks, 6 sheep and 6 goats, horses and donkeys, and with God’s help, I observed the sabbatical year in detail.  Also all the commandments of the land, I observed in a heightened way.  My house was open wide and God’s blessing was on all the works of the house and the field, even though this is not a place of planting because of the numerous rocks.  Even so, I worked hard and God was my helpmate.  Numerous difficult factors came upon us in 1839 because of the terrible war between the Turkish sultan and the Egyptian Pasha, which, because of them, forced me to leave this pleasant village and go to Jerusalem.”

His children and grandchildren, however, raised listening to their father and grandfather, received his Living Will and continued Israel Beck’s mission to rebuild the land.  His son, Nissan Beck, famous for the Tiferet Israel synagogue in Jerusalem, also built the first Hasidic community outside the Old City of Jerusalem, Batei Nissan Beck, near Damascus Gate.  Israel Beck’s grandson, Shimon Rokach, was among the founders of Neve Tzedek, the first Jewish neighborhood outside of Jaffa.

Israel Beck never moved from within the Old City once he arrived, and lived out his days in Jerusalem.  His settlement on Mt. Meron stands until today a ruin and a monument to his dream.  His contribution can be best expressed not by that heap of rubble but by his dream. Building the Land of Israel lay beyond the grasp of Israel Beck, yet it was achieved through those who sat at his feet and understood their role in continuing his dream.

Last of a Line

People tend to think that tomorrow will be like today.  It is very difficult to predict the end of an era unless there is a clear end point.  Most crises hit on random Tuesday afternoons when we are least expecting them; and just like that, one era finishes and we walk into the next.

gargiliusGargilius Antiquus certainly didn’t take the job of Roman Prefect of Judea knowing that he would be the last.  This life-long Roman politician was unknown in the history of Judea until January 2016.  While conducting an underwater archaeological expedition near Tel Dor on Israel’s Mediterranean coast, scientists found a Roman base which names  Gargilius as the Roman prefect of Judea.

Dor was an ancient city which stood on a small headland just north of a protected inlet on the Mediterranean.  The first Canaanites settled in Dor in the Bronze Age.  For the next 3000 years, this space would continue to be occupied.  It was under the influence of the Phoenicians during the Iron Age – one of a string of coastal towns.

During the 5th century B.C.E.,  an alliance between the Athenians and the Egyptians to protect their trade route saw Dor separated from the larger Phoenician centers to the north, to become a Greek outpost.  When the Romans took over the cities of Phoenicia, Dor was again included with them and absorbed into the province of Syria; it was not part of the province of the Jews, Judea.

At the end of the 1st century C.E., Dor was transferred to the Jewish province of Judea.  Could it be that the Jews fleeing revolt and destruction in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. settled in more far-flung places like Dor and made them more “Jewish”?

The statue base which was found at the bottom of the ancient harbor and its 7 lines of text provide a link between Judea, Gargilius and the office of Roman prefect.  Such a base could have helped to cement the inclusion of the city of Dor in Judea in the eyes of the population.  It is like a billboard which says, “Hey! You’re part of Judea now and Gargilius is your ruler.”

The period when Dor was under the Prefect of Judea was short-lived. After the Bar Cochva revolt in 135 C.E., Hadrian eliminated the prefects of Judea.  He changed the name of the region and absorbed the former province into the province of Syria.

There was no way for Gargilius Antiquus to know that he was to be the last prefect of Judea; and his forgettable reign  sank to the bottom of the sea, as did the recently found testament to his term.  Although Hadrian tried to erase Judea, even the sea brings forth signs of Judea, the land of the Jews.