Archaeological discovery in Jerusalem raises question: Who was Horkanus?

The name is carved into a piece of a stone bowl dating back some 2,100 years to the Hasmonean period that was discovered in Jerusalem's City of David.

December 22, 2016 10:58
1 minute read.
City of David Jerusalem

Letters found on a stone from the Hasmonean Dynasty says. (photo credit: CLARA AMIT, COURTESY OF THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)


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An archaeological discovery in Jerusalem’s City of David has researchers asking the question, “Who was Horkanus?” The name is carved into a piece of a stone bowl dating back some 2,100 years to the Hasmonean period, which was revealed by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Thursday. Such stone bowls were commonly used by Jews in the period, but the fact that a name in Hebrew is etched into the bowl makes the discovery a rare event.

The piece was discovered under the site of an ancient mikve ritual bath in the City of David’s Givati site.

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Researchers are unsure of who was the Horkanus referred to on the bowl.

“The name Horkanus was pretty common,” said Dr.

Doron Ben-Ami of the IAA and Prof. Esther Eshel of Bar- Ilan University. “There were famous figures with this name at the time - Yochanan Horkanus, who was Mattathias the Hasmonean’s grandson and the governor of Judea, as well as Yochanan Horkanus II, who was the son of Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai and Queen Shlomtzion. However, it is impossible to determine if the bowl belonged to one of them.”

The Givati site in which the piece was found has yielded a number of significant archaeological finds from different periods. The bowl was found near the site of a discovery last year which appears to be evidence of the Greek Acra citadel, the famous stronghold that Antiochus IV used in the second century BCE to control Jerusalem and monitor activity on the Temple Mount.


The Acra was eventually taken over by the Hasmoneans.

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