A unique structure from the Hasmonean period has been uncovered in archeological digs carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park adjacent to the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.
The ancient historian Flavius Josephus wrote about Hasmonean Jerusalem but only in the last few months have the remains of a structure from around 200 B.C.E. been found in the City of David parking lot. The excavations are sponsored by Friends of the City of David.
The structure's broad walls, which measure more than a meter in width, are built from roughly hewn limestone blocks that are lain in a fashion characteristic of the Hasmonean period. Many pieces of pottery were also discovered inside the structure, which reaches a height of about four meters (13 feet) and covers an area of roughly 64 square meters (690 square feet).
It was the coins found inside, however, that most surprised the archaeologists. The coins indicated the structure was built at the beginning of the second century B.C.E. and was used well into the Hasmonean period (140 B.C.E. to 37 B.C.E.), during which time it underwent significant changes.
Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, stated that "the importance of this discovery is in the strikingly few Hasmonean city buildings present in Jerusalem's archaeological research, despite the many excavations conducted until now."
The excavation directors added: "Excluding the remains from the city's fortifications, which were discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, [and] pottery and other small finds, so far, the city buildings themselves have not been exposed. This discovery bridges the gap in the continued settlement of Jerusalem. The Hasmonean city, which we know well from Josephus' historical descriptions, have suddenly acquired tangible expression."