Scientists have uncovered evidence that the Maccabees stormed and destroyed the stronghold of the Seleucid Empire. This is reported by Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

Archaeologists excavated the Lachish Forest and discovered the burned-out remains of an ancient Hellenistic fortress in Israel. It was captured by Jewish rebels over 2,000 years ago.

The revolt of the Maccabees (Hasmoneans) against the Seleucids broke out in 167 BC, before that the people were split into Hellenized Jews (who adopted the customs, and sometimes religion, of the Greeks) and Orthodox Jews. The worship of pagan gods was widespread throughout the country. The top of the Jewish leadership was also Hellenized.

The Hasmoneans began to organize resistance to the Seleucids after King Antiochus IV desecrated the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 168 BC. The Maccabees were eventually returned, according to the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 164 BC. NS. the rebels liberated Jerusalem and the temple, in which the temple service was interrupted for 3 years. They rededicated the temple, but could find only a little ceremonial oil to light a new menorah in the temple for one day. According to the so-called “miracle” of Hanukkah, it burned for eight days – long enough for the temple priests to produce enough fresh oil to re-light the menorah every day.

Archaeologists recently excavated and found new evidence of the battle between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids about 2,100 years ago. Researchers have discovered a destroyed citadel in Lachshish Forest at the foot of the Judean Mountains in southern Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said in a statement. It is a small building measuring 15 by 15 meters, which was designed as a well fortified structure. The outer walls, at least 3 m thick, were erected from large stones, with a slope that protected from assault. Archaeologists also found weapons, burnt wooden beams and dozens of coins.

According to Saar Ganor, Vladik Lifshitz and Achinoam Montague, the excavation leaders on behalf of the IAA, “the finds are tangible evidence of the Hanukkah stories.”

It appears that we have discovered a building that was part of a fortified line erected by the commanders of the Hellenistic army to defend the large Hellenistic city of Maresh from Hasmonean attack. However, finds from this site indicate that the Seleucid defense was unsuccessful; the excavated building was burned and destroyed by the Hasmoneans.

excavation leaders

According to the data, the fort was destroyed around 112 BC. – decades after the Hanukkah “miracle” took place in Jerusalem. At a time when the leader of the Maccabees and a Jewish high priest named Johanan (John) Hyrcanus led the Hasmoneans in their struggle for independence from the Seleucids. “Judging by the finds and coins, the destruction of the building can be attributed to the conquest of the Idumea region by the Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus around 112 BC.e.”, – say, archaeologists.

According to Yehiel Tropper, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports, this new archaeological find allows us to learn more about the battles and victories of Maccabean rebels thousands of years ago. “This is a classic example of how traditional, well-known and beloved stories become part of historical and archaeological records and, most importantly, evidence of traditional Hanukkah stories,” he concluded. According to the IAA, after the completion of excavations at this site, the fortress will be preserved and then open to the public.