Fortress of Hanukah villain Antiochus believed to have been discovered under car park in City of David National Park in Jerusalem
Israeli archeologists believe they have found the ancient Greek fortress of Acra. Israel’s Antiquities Authority made the discovery on Tuesday, following weeks of archeological digs. The site was found under a car park in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.
Over 2,000 years old, Acra was a fortress used by the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 BC in order to control and monitor activity on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. Under his rule, Hellenic rule was enforced and Jewish practice banned.
The Hasmonean Dynasty liberated the fortress in 141 BC during the Maccabean Revolt.
The Book of the Maccabees states on Acra, “And they built the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with strong towers, and made it a fortress Acra for them: And they placed there a sinful nation, wicked men, and they fortified themselves therein.” (1 Maccabees 1:35 – 38).
Aside from the remains of the fortress, bronze arrowheads, slingshots and stones stamped with the Antiochus trident were found at the Acra citadel.
Directors of the excavation, Doron Ben-Ami, Yana Tchekhanovets and Salome Cohen stated on the discovery, “This sensational discovery allows us for the first time to reconstruct the layout of the settlement in the city, on the eve of the Maccabean uprising in 167 BCE. The new archaeological finds indicate the establishment of a well-fortified stronghold that was constructed on the high bedrock cliff overlooking the steep slopes of the City of David hill. This stronghold controlled all means of approach to the Temple atop the Temple Mount, and cut the Temple off from the southern parts of the city. The numerous coins ranging in date from the reign of Antiochus IV to that of Antiochus VII and the large number of wine jars (amphorae) that were imported from the Aegean region to Jerusalem, which were discovered at the site, provide evidence of the citadel’s chronology, as well as the non-Jewish identity of its inhabitants.”
According to the Authority, the site will be opened to the public for Hanukah celebrations this December.