In recent months, the remains of an impressive structure from the Hasmonean period (second century BCE) have been unearthed in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Giv‘ati site, located in the City of David, near the walls surrounding the Old City. Josephus wrote about Hasmonean Jerusalem, but it is only now that remains of a building from this period in the city’s history are being exposed.
The building stands 12 ft. high and covers an area of 690 sq.ft. The building’s broad walls, more than 3 ft. thick, are made of roughly hewn limestone blocks that were arranged as headers and stretchers, a construction method characteristic of the Hasmonean period.
Although numerous pottery vessels were discovered inside the building, it was mainly the coins that surprised the researchers. The dating of these coins indicate that the structure was erected in the early second century BCE and continued to be in use into the Hasmonean period, during which significant changes were made inside the building.
Dr. Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, the excavation directors on behalf to the Israel Antiquities Authority, say “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. 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 historical 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.”
About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.
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