2,300-year-old village discovered on road leading to Jerusalem

Dig reveals small rural settlement with stone houses; each building housed a single nuclear family, consisted of several rooms and an open courtyard.

February 18, 2014 10:43
1 minute read.
Israeli archaeology

Aerial photograph of 2300-year-old village . (photo credit: SKYVIEW, COURTESY OF THE ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

Work to uncover the remnants of an approximately 2300-year-old  rural settlement that was discovered on a road leading to Jerusalem in August 2013 was completed recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

The village was occupied for approximately two centuries during the Second Temple Period and is located near the 'Burma Road' (not far from Mitzpe Harel).

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The excavations, which covered about 750 square meters, revealed a small rural settlement with a few stone houses and a network of narrow alleys. Each building, which probably housed a single nuclear family, consisted of several rooms and an open courtyard.

According to Irina Zilberbod, excavation director on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, "The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards". 

The excavations have shown that the site reached the height of its development in the Hellenistic period (during the third century BCE), when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid monarchy following Alexander the Great, and that it was abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty.

It is not known why the site was abandoned, but it is probably related to economic problems and not to a violent incident. As Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch explains, "The phenomenon of villages and farms being abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty or the beginning of Herod the Great's succeeding rule is one that we are familiar with from many rural sites in Judea, and it may be related to Herod's massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects."

The excavations yielded numerous and varied finds from all occupation periods, including basalt and limestone grinding and milling tools for domestic use, pottery cooking pots, jars for storing liquids (oil and wine,) pottery oil lamps for domestic use, and over sixty coins, including coins from the reigns of the Seleucid King Antiochus III and the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus.

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