11 December 2023: Ariel, Israel – In a prestigious acknowledgment, National Geographic has named the discovery of a rare cache of Roman weapons in the Judean Desert, led by Ariel University and the Israel Antiquities Authority, as the number 1 most exciting archaeological discovery of 2023. (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/premium/article/exciting-archaeological-discoveries-2023) This extraordinary recognition highlights the global significance of the find, which includes four remarkably well-preserved Roman swords and a shafted pilum (Roman javelin), dating back nearly 1,900 years.
The initial discovery was made in June during an exploration led by Dr. Asaf Gayer of Ariel University. The team’s first find was the tip of a Roman pilum, which led to the uncovering of the swords. Exceptionally intact and preserved by the unique conditions of the desert, these artifacts provide an unprecedented window into a historical era rife with conflict and resilience.
The discovery’s ranking by National Geographic underscores its importance in shedding light on a key period in history, potentially linked to the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE), a significant Jewish uprising against Roman rule. The well-preserved state of these weapons offers invaluable insights into the materials, craftsmanship, and military practices of the time.
Ariel University takes great pride in this recognition, which reflects the university’s dedication to advancing historical research and archaeology. “Being recognized by National Geographic is a testament to the hard work and persistence of our team. This discovery transcends mere artifacts; it’s a voice from the past that enriches our understanding of human history,” said a spokesman of Ariel University.
The discovery is part of the ongoing efforts under the Judean Desert Survey Project, which continues to uncover significant historical artifacts and sites, demonstrating the vital role of academic research in archaeological discovery.