The opening to the tunnels was hewn in the creek walls. When you enter, you will see a narrow, long staircase that descends in complete darkness into the depths of the mountain. The descent in both tunnels is long, many tens of meters. I’m convinced you’re trying to guess where they’re leading to, so just to set your expectations, they’re not leading anywhere, just to a dead end. So, you will need to turn around and get out the same way you entered. No one knows exactly what the tunnels were used for, but no doubt someone put in a huge effort to carve them.
The eastern staircase, where this video is taken, is hewn in the northern wall of the stream and is relatively short, the western staircase is hewn in the southern wall and is very long. Not recommended for those with poor physical fitness and certainly not for those suffering from claustrophobia, but it is recommended for all lovers of mystery. The western tunnel is partially blocked by concrete casting to prevent an alluvium from penetrating the place. You can carefully climb over it and enter the tunnel.
There are several suggestions for the use of the tunnels: a tomb for Herod’s opponents and perhaps even for his son Antipater who was executed by Herod, and perhaps a hiding place or water system, and possibly a hiding place for one of the copper scroll’s treasures where the city of Schacha (Secacah) and Schacha valley are mentioned. Another suggestion I heard tries to link the place with the worship of the sun and stars, using a similar tunnel built for the Persian god Mithras in Turkey.
Let’s further elaborate on the copper scroll, which is one of the dead sea scrolls or some time referred to as the Judean desert scrolls, found during the 50th of the 20th century and their content is considered one of the most valuable archaeological findings ever. Many of the scrolls are dated back to the 1st and 2nd century BCE and they provide valuable historical and religious information. My last comment on the scrolls, is that they were found in several caves in the Judean desert, yet many of them were found in Qumran adjacent to the dead sea, approx. 5 km away from here.
Unlike the other scrolls written on parchment, this scroll is engraved on copper. What is really interesting is the content of the scroll – it lists treasures (60 or 64) that include very large quantities of coins, silver, gold and valuable tools, along with marking the hiding places of these treasures whose total weight is estimated at about 100 tons. Now, before you look for your digging tools, please watch the video first.
Most of the places mentioned in the scroll are unknown. The source of the treasure is also unknown and to whom it belonged, but of course there are speculations such as: a pharaonic treasure, or the treasure of the First Temple or the treasure of the Second Temple that was hidden just before Jerusalem was taken by the Romans, and few other options.
The paragraphs in the scroll have a fixed structure and as I go through them a very interesting example is listed below. I’ll just mention that this is my free translation and some of the wards were unclear.
In the ruins of the valley of Achor (Joshua chapter 7 verse 34) below – the elevations are hidden to the east forearms – forty tile silver and kidney field – weight as a loaf of ten KEN
The information structure includes:
1. Indication of the location
2. More information for the location
3. Explanation of the excavation
4. The distance (usually indicated in forearms)
5. Description of the hidden item
6. Additional notes
7. Two or three Greek letters
Referring to the example above – one of the scroll researchers – John Marco Allegro, identified the fortress of Hyrcania with the “ruin in the biblical Valley of Achur”. According to the researcher, KEN, are signs indicating the sources of treasures that appear in the scroll.
Schacha is mentioned as one of the six desert cities (Joshua chapter 15), and also schacha brook, are both mentioned several times in the copper scroll in connection with places where treasures were hidden. I will add that an excavation was carried out near the Hyrcania fortress in the hope of finding treasures, but so far nothing has been found. So just before you start planning your visit here to look for the treasure, I will end as usual with a question – out of the six desert cities as listed in the book of Joshua chapter 15, what is the location which is the most active today – the answer will appear at the end of the video.