Hasmonean Jerusalem Exposed in Time for Hanukkah

Hasmonean era no longer absent from Jerusalem’s archaeological record

The Hanukkah announcement of the discovery of this large structure in Jerusalem's City of David fills in the missing Hasmonean era of Jerusalem's history. Credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

During this winter’s holiday season, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archaeologists announced the discovery of Hanukkah-era history in Jerusalem. Excavations in Jerusalem’s Givati parking lot in the City of David revealed a large structure with coins indicating its early second-century construction and occupation into the Hasmonean era.

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.”

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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.

Read the Israel Antiquities Authority Press release.


Learn more in Bible History Daily:

Hasmonean Rulers Between Piety and Luxury

Layers of Jerusalem Archaeology

Rome and the Maccabees: A Friendship Set in Bronze?

Roman Curse Tablet Uncovered in Jerusalem’s City of David

The Seleucid Akra: 2,200-Year-Old Jerusalem Fortress Uncovered?


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  • Thomas says

    The first paragraph says second century (though written correctly in paragraph 2) which is also what the email link I received says. Fact checker asleep?

  • Stanley J. says

    Which parking lot is the Hasmonean structure located in? Is it at the top of the hill near the Dung Gate, or is it a smaller area farther down the hill?

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