FROM ARCHAEOLOGY TO MEDICINE
It was March 1960. I was still a teenager – two weeks short of my twentieth birthday. While in military service in the Israeli army I volunteered to participate in an archaeological digging expedition in the Judean Desert Mountains. The archaeological expedition was led by the legendary archaeologist – Pessach Bar-Adon.
The military personnel provided security and logistical support in these isolated and barren mountains overseeing the Dead Sea. The land access was challenging. It took about 18 hours of drive on four-wheel trucks hauling trailers of supplies, electrical generator, communications, water and food. The alternative access was by helicopter. I served as a para-medic for the expedition.
The exploration site was a cave in the steep wall of a canyon known as ‘Nahal Mishmar’. The canyon drains intermittent floods of rain water from the mountains down to the Dead Sea. The depth of the canyon is about 300 meters. The access to the cave’s entrance was reached by descending down a hand-braided rope ladder. One misstep and the amateur mountaineer may fall down the abyss. Fortunately, we had no accidents during the 3 weeks duration of the expedition.
On March 21, 1961, while in the cave, I was hunched and observing over the shoulder of two diggers squatting on their knees when their small hand-picks encountered some objects.
Gradually 432 different artifacts were unearthed. Most of them were made of bronze and copper. A few were art-work made of ivory tusks. Subsequently the artifacts were dated using C-14 and determined to have been manufactured around 4000-3300 years BC. The treasure is on public display in the Israel museum in Jerusalem. In the photo you see a copy of the English edition of the scientific report, authored and edited by Lead Archaeologist – Pessach Bar-Adon and a display sample of some representative artifacts.
No one has a clear idea of what those artifacts were used. Many are possibly objects used for worship. Others are objects for daily living. More information is available in Wikipedia under the entries: ‘The Cave of The Treasure’ and ‘Nahal Mishmar’.