A Hellenistic ( Greek ) fortified structure destroyed and burned by Hasmoneans during the Maccabean wars has been recently uncovered during excavations in the Judean Shephelah, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Tuesday.
Weapons, burnt wooden beams, dozens of coins and a Hellenistic fortified structure, tangible evidence of a battle between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids some 2,100 years ago, were unearthed in IAA excavations in Lachish Forest, as part of the Kings of Judah Road project.
Saar Ganor, Vladik Lifshits, and Ahinoam Montagu, excavation directors on behalf of the IAA, said that the site “provides tangible evidence of the Chanukah stories. It appears that we have discovered a building that was part of a fortified line erected by the Hellenistic army commanders to protect the large Hellenistic city of Maresha from a Hasmonean offensive. However, the finds from the site show that the Seleucid defences were unsuccessful; the building was badly burnt and devastated by the Hasmoneans.”
The excavation revealed a 15×15 meters building planned as a well-fortified unit. The external walls, no less than 3 metres wide, were built of large stones and had a sloping outer glacis to prevent the wall from being scaled. The inside of the structure was divided into seven rooms, preserved to an exceptional height of roughly two meters.
The excavation uncovered a stairwell leading to a second floor, which was not preserved. The building is estimated to have been about five meters high.
The site is placed on the summit of a high hill commanding a view of the ancient main road, which ran along the Nahal Lachish streambed and connected the coastal plain to the central highland ridge. The building overlooks Maresha, the largest Hellenistic city in the area and the capital of Idumea in the Hellenistic period.