Greek fortress key to ancient Jerusalem

4 November 2015
155 Views

After a century of searching, archaeologists say they have found the remnants of an ancient Greek fortress once a center of power in Jerusalem and a stronghold used to hold off a Jewish rebellion celebrated in the scriptural Book of the Maccabees.

Researchers have long debated over the location of the Acra, built more than 2,000 years ago by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of the Hellenized Seleucid Empire. Many asserted it stood in what is now Jerusalem’s walled Old City, at spots like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or by the hilltop where two Jewish temples once towered and which now houses the Al Aqsa mosque compound.

But the remains unearthed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and made public on Tuesday are outside the walls, overlooking a valley to the south, an area where archaeologists say Jerusalem construction was concentrated under the biblical King David.

Antiochus, who lived from 215-164 BC, chose the spot for the Acra in order to control the city and monitor activity in the Jewish temple, said Doron Ben-Ami, who led the excavation.

With an estimated length of up to 250 meters and 60 meters in width, it would have dominated the countryside.

Beneath what a decade ago was a paved parking lot, Ben-Ami’s team sifted through an artificial hill made of layers of earth left behind by successive cultures.

In one area they uncovered stones from a section of a massive wall, the base of a tower and a sloping defensive embankment that nearby artifacts like coins and wine jug handles suggest date to the period of Antiochus.

Lead sling stones and bronze arrowheads from the period were also found, perhaps left over from battles between pro-Greek forces and Jewish rebels trying to take over the fortress.

“This is a rare example of how rocks, coins and dirt can come together in a single archaeological story that addresses specific historical realities from the city of Jerusalem,” Ben-Ami said.

The Acra’s location was referred to vaguely in at least two ancient texts – the Book of Maccabees, which tells of the rebellion, and a written record by historian Josephus Flavius.

Historians tell how the rebels, led by Judas Maccabeus, took back Jerusalem from the Greeks, a victory marked in the Jewish festival Hannukah. But the Acra held out until rebels under Judas’s brother, Simon, later lay siege and forced its surrender.

Source: Reuters

You may be interested

Turkish deputy-Prime Minister accuses Greece of oppressing religious minorities in latest Turkish tirade against Greece
GREECE
shares58 views
GREECE
shares58 views

Turkish deputy-Prime Minister accuses Greece of oppressing religious minorities in latest Turkish tirade against Greece

makis - Nov 17, 2017

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag accused Greece of imprisoning Muslim Imams, despite the country being a member of the…

Greek PM says country would rely on itself to face flood disaster
POLITICS
shares77 views
POLITICS
shares77 views

Greek PM says country would rely on itself to face flood disaster

makis - Nov 17, 2017

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras thanked European countries for offering to help after the flash floods in western Attica, Wednesday, which…

US meteorologist explains deadly storm that flooded Greek towns
GREECE
shares99 views
GREECE
shares99 views

US meteorologist explains deadly storm that flooded Greek towns

makis - Nov 17, 2017

“When the Atlantic hurricane season begins to quiet down in late October and November, it’s time to cast an eye…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.