Hanukkah celebrates the successful Maccabean Revolt, a second-century B.C.E. campaign to cleanse the Temple from desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, an event recorded by Josephus, the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees and the Heliodorus inscription. The Jewish Hasmonean dynasty ruled Judea for a century following the revolt before Roman intervention led to the establishment of the Herodian dynasty in 37 B.C.E. Despite the extended and celebrated rule of the Hasmoneans, they left few extant architectural traces in Jerusalem. In the IAA press release, excavation directors Doron Ben Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets state that there is a “conspicuous paucity of buildings from the Hasmonean city of Jerusalem in archaeological research … this discovery bridges a certain gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence. The Hasmonean city, which is well-known to us from the historical descriptions that appear in the works of Josephus, has suddenly acquired tangible expression.”
The nearly 700-square-foot structure, which was modified in the Hasmonean period, features broad walls hewn in characteristic Hasmonean style. The prominent excavations at the City of David parking lot have uncovered architecture and artifacts from several eras in the city’s history, including a recently announced Roman curse tablet.