In 2013, just in time for Chanukah, an unearthed building dating back to the Hasmonean period was found along with some valuable artifacts. 

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) displayed a newly discovered building in Jerusalem dating back to the Hasmonean period (2nd Century BCE), and it was perfect timing. The event took place on Tuesday, the sixth day of the Festival of Chanukah, which celebrates the Maccabean victory and the launch of the Hasmonean era.

“Josephus wrote about Hasmonean Jerusalem, but it is only now that remains of a building are being exposed from this period in the city’s history,” the IAA stated in a press release.

The remains of the edifice were found in archaeological excavations in recent months, in the Giv‘ati parking lot, located in the City of David in the Walls Around Jerusalem National Park. The project was directed by the IAA and sponsored by Friends of the City of David.

The building stands approximately four meters high and covers an area of roughly 64 square meters. Its broad walls, more than one meter thick, are made of roughly hewn limestone blocks that were arranged as headers and stretchers – a construction method characteristic of the Hasmonean period, the IAA explained.

Numerous pottery vessels were found inside the building, but it was the coins that most impressed the researchers, as they “indicated the structure was erected in the early second century BCE and continued into the Hasmonean period, during which time significant changes were made inside it,” according to the IAA.

“The importance of this discovery is primarily because of the conspicuous paucity of buildings from the Hasmonean city of Jerusalem in archaeological research, despite the many excavations that have been conducted to date,” said IAA excavation directors Dr. Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, in a joint statement. “Apart from several remains of the city’s fortifications that were discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, as well as pottery and other small finds, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings have been uncovered so far, and this discovery bridges a certain gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence. The Hasmonean city, which is well-known to us from the historical descriptions that appear in the works of Josephus, has suddenly acquired tangible expression.”

Exactly a year earlier, the IAA uncovered the remains of a Hasmonean-era farming community in Jerusalem by digging under a road. The IAA, upon that discovery, said the findings could bring new information on the lives of everyday people living before and after the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty. The ancient agricultural settlement seems to have existed both before and after the rule of the Hasmonean dynasty.

Author: United with Israel Staff

Chanukah articles


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