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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Josephus’

Ancient Mystery Solved: Hellenistic Citadel that Restricted Jewish Rule in Hasmonean Jerusalem [photos]

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

(JNi.media) A fascinating, recent discovery appears to have solved one of Jerusalem’s biggest historical mysteries: the location of the Acra, the fortified compound in Jerusalem built by Antiochus Epiphanes, ruler of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, following his sack of the city in 168 BCE. The renowned fortress was used to control the Jewish city and to monitor the activities in the temple. The Akra was eventually conquered by the Hasmoneans.

The discovery of the ancient Akra was made recently at the archaeological excavations run by the Israel Antiquities Authority at the Givati ​​parking lot in the City of David, which is part of the national park that circles the walls of Jerusalem.

The Givati ​​parking lot excavations in the City of David National Park has been ongoing for a decade. The Elad association, which operates the national park, is funding the diverse excavations in the site. The excavation has already revealed many artifacts from various periods in Jerusalem’s history. The site is open to the general public, which is invited to get a closer look at the excavation work in real time.

Over the past century of archaeological research in Jerusalem many proposals have been offered identifying the location of the Akra, which is mentioned in the books of the Maccabees and by Jewish historian Yosef Ben-Matityahu (Josephus Flavius). The uncertainty about the compound’s location was created by the fact that there are very few artifacts dating back to the Hellenistic conquest and then its lingering presence in Jerusalem.

In recent months, archeologists digging the City of David hill have exposed evidence of the existence of the fort: a section of a massive wall, a tower of impressive dimensions (width about 12 ft, length 60 ft, estimated height 54 ft.) and a slanted slope which was built next to the wall, a defensive element made of layers of earth, stone and stucco, designed to keep attackers from the base of the wall. The slope came down to the Tyropoeon ravine that split the city in ancient times, which was an additional obstacle in defending the fort.

Researchers discovered lead sling stones, bronze arrowheads, and catapult stones in the site, branded with a pitchfork, a symbol of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. They are silent remains of the fierce battles that took place there during the time of the Hasmoneans, who kept trying to seize the fortress that stuck in their craw for years.

Various sources reported that the Akra fortress was populated by Greek mercenaries and Hellenized Jews. The foreign citadel withstood repeated attacks, until, finally, in 141 BC, after a long siege and starvation of the Greek garrison inside, Simon the Hasmonean was able to bring them into submission.

Additional photos by Yonatan Sindel / Flash90:
Acra Citadel

Acra Citadel

Acra Citadel

Acra Citadel


Archaeologists Find 2,000-Year-Old Evidence of Siege in Jerusalem

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Archaeological excavations near the Western Wall have unearthed three complete cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp that are the first pieces of evidence of the Jewish famine during the revolt during the siege of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.

The Israel Antiquities Authority is digging up history in excavations of the drainage channel that runs from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David to Robinson’s Arch, at the southern end of the Western Wall.

“This is the first time we are able to connect archaeological finds with the famine that occurred during the siege of Jerusalem at the time of the Great Revolt,” said excavation director Eli Shukrun.

The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp, discovered inside a small cistern in a drainage channel, indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them, and this is consistent with the account provided by Josephus,” he explained.

In his book “The Jewish War,” Josephus describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem and in its wake the dire hunger that prevailed in the blockaded city.

In his dramatic description of the famine in Jerusalem he tells about the Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of their fellow Jews in the city. Josephus said that the Jews concealed the food they possessed for fear it would be stolen by the rebels, and they ate in hidden places in their homes.

“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it…. Nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them. If they found some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them,” Josephus wrote.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich, barley if they were poor. They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of the their houses, where some through extreme hunger ate their grain as it was, others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid…”

The artifacts will be on display in a study conference on the City of David next Thursday.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeologists-find-2000-year-old-evidence-of-siege-in-jerusalem/2013/06/27/

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