Buried pig bones raise questions

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Zias said that famed archaeologist Yigael Yadin, who excavated Masada, had noted in a book he wrote on the dig "that these were the remains of 24 persons thrown into the cave, the last defenders of Masada."

However, in an unpublished report, Yadin recorded the presence of pig bones in the cave in which he found the remains.

Addressing an international congress on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Zias said the presence of the pig bones was not publicly acknowledged until 1981, when Yadin admitted it to a Jerusalem Post reporter.

"I spoke to Yadin, and asked `How could you say they were Jewish?' said Zias of the remains. He said Yadin responded, "`I never said they were Jewish.'"

According to Zias, Yadin said he had raised the problem with the chief rabbi at the time, who decided that Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto had brought in pigs to deal with the garbage problem and that the defenders of Masada might have had a similar idea.

"I told Yadin that if they had a garbage problem all they had to do was throw it down on the Romans," said Zias. "He looked at me and I think he agreed."