Support the Café

Search our Site

Archaeologists discover an ancient fortress overlooking King David’s Jerusalem

Archaeologists discover an ancient fortress overlooking King David’s Jerusalem

The fortress was built 2,000 years ago by King Antiochus Epiphanes, and until now its location has been unknown:

Many thought it stood in what is now Jerusalem’s walled Old City, at spots such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre or by the hilltop where two Jewish temples once towered and now house the Al Aqsa mosque compound.

But the remains unearthed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and made public on Tuesday (Nov. 3) 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.

The site was buried under a parking lot, and includes coins, sling stones and arrowheads.

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, lead 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’ brother, Simon, later lay siege and forced its surrender.

Read more from the Religion New Services report.

From The Times of Israel:

The site will be opened to the public by the Hanukkah holiday, which this year begins the evening of December 6, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced.

…The dig, which has been ongoing for the past 10 years, also uncovered lead sling stones, bronze arrowheads and stones shot by a ballista, an ancient catapult. The ballista stones were stamped with the image of a pitchfork, the symbol of Antiochus’s reign. Coins found at the spot were dated from the reign of aforementioned Antiochus IV Epiphanes to the reign of Antiochus VII Sidetes, who died in 129 BCE.

The finds were “silent remnants of the battles that took place there in the days of the Hasmoneans,” the priestly family that led the Maccabean rebellion, the archaeologists said.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Murdoch Matthew

Archaeologists discover an ancient fortress overlooking King David’s Jerusalem

This headline is tendentious. 200 BCE is long after the time of the Biblical King David. Archaeological evidence shows Jerusalem at the supposed time of King David was a small hilltop village, not an imperial capital. David (and Solomon) don’t appear in historical or archaeological records — they appear to be as mythical as Britain’s King Arthur.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café