In reports filed online yesterday, it seems archaeologists may have found remains of the fortress built just before the time of the Maccabees (2nd century BCE) that once overlooked the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. (For one report, go to: http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/04/middleeast/israel-acra-discovery/.)
Remains of the citadel and tower (Photographic credit: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority).
The fortress, built by the Greek Seleucids who governed Palestine from about 200 to 164 BCE., is known in Greek as the Acra. It was built, according to 1 Maccabees 1:35–38, during the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid ruler responsible for inciting such opposition among the Jewish people by virtually banning the practice of Judaism that the Maccabean revolt was launched.
The excavation’s directors, Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets, and Salome Cohen, discovered the remains of the Acra underneath a parking lot on the south side of the Temple mount.
“Artifacts retrieved from the site include lead sling shots, bronze arrowheads and ballista stones stamped with a trident, a symbol of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Other items like amphorae — wine jars — which were imported from the Aegean region, also point to non-Jewish inhabitants.”