Archaeologists Uncover Fortress From Hanukkah Story in Jerusalem
Archaeologists announced Tuesday that they have discovered in Jerusalem remains of the Acra, a Greek fortress that plays a central role in the story of Hanukkah.
The researchers discovered the Acra in an excavation of the ancient City of David in the Jerusalem Walls National Park. They uncovered what they believe to be a defensive wall built there during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a Greek king who outlawed the Jewish religion and forced Jews to worship pagan gods and goddesses.
The Acra was built by Antiochus to control activity in Jerusalem, especially at the temple. The eight-day celebration of Hanukkah honors the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem when Jews rose up against Greek rule in the Maccabean Revolt.
Excavators said they found evidence of the Acra, including part of a large wall, a base of a tower four meters wide and 20 meters long, and a defensive embankment called a “glacis” constructed out of soil, stone, and plaster.
Researchers also discovered lead sling shots, bronze arrowheads, and ballistae stones that suggest efforts to conquer the fortress during Antiochus’ rule.
Archaeologists overseeing the Israel Antiquities Authority excavation project called the discovery “sensational,” explaining that it has allowed them to understand the layout of the city at the time of the Maccabean Revolt.
“This sensational discovery allows us for the first time to reconstruct the layout of the settlement in the city, on the eve of the Maccabean uprising in 167 B.C.E.,” said members of the team in a statement on Tuesday. “The new archaeological finds indicate the establishment of a well-fortified stronghold that was constructed on the high bedrock cliff overlooking the steep slopes of the City of David hill. This stronghold controlled all means of approach to the Temple atop the Temple Mount, and cut the Temple off from the southern parts of the city.”
The researchers also stated that coins found at the excavation site “provide evidence of the citadel’s chronology, as well as the non-Jewish identity of its inhabitants.”
Various theories about the location of the Acra have been advanced in the last century as artifacts of Greek rule in Jerusalem have remained scarce. The latest
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