Hannah Cotton/Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society

Another common document was the deed of gift, which permitted Jewish fathers to will property to their daughters; Biblical law denied daughters the right to inherit property if they had brothers. (The document belonged to Salome Komaise and was discovered in a cave in Wadi Seelim, near where Babatha’s archive was found.) Men’s archives discovered in the Judean desert caves, in contrast, contained no similar documents—just military correspondence and leasing contracts. The disparities indicate that women were defined according to their relationships to men and had to safeguard any documents that proved those relationships and protected their rights.