2,300-year-old rural town uncovered in Israel
Excavations on the outskirts of Jerusalem have revealed the remains of an ancient rural village that dates back to the Second Temple period, which lasted between 530 BC and 70 AD, and refers to the period in which the Jewish temple stood on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount following the destruction of the First Temple.
The ancient town was discovered during a salvage excavation ahead of a construction project to install a 35-kilometre gas pipeline. It is located on a ridge with a clear view of the surrounding countryside near the legendary Burma Road, a route that allowed supplies and food to flow into Jerusalem during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The finding of the old town includes the discovery of narrow alleys and a few single-family stone houses, each containing several rooms and an open courtyard. The archaeologists also found dozens of coins, cooking pots, milling tools and jars for storing oil and wine.
Irina Zilberbod, the excavation director for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said that: "The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards." It is believed that the people inhabiting the region cultivated orchards and vineyards for a living.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the village hit its peak during the 3 rd century BC, when Judea was under the control of the Seleucid monarchy after the breakup of Alexander the Great's empire. The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, which came to encompass Babylonia, central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Kuwait, Persia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and northwest parts of India.
Residents seem to have abandoned the town at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty — when Herod the Great came into power in 37 BC. Archaeologist Yuval Baruch explained that this may be related to “Herod's massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects."
The Second Temple period ended with the first Jewish-Roman War and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.