Archaeologists have unearthed the charred remnants of an old Hellenistic fortress in Israel that was destroyed by Jewish rebels over 2,000 years ago. During the insurrection marked by the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, a guerilla army called the Hasmoneans, commonly known as the Maccabee army, defeated and set fire to the fortress. The ruined stronghold was discovered late in the Lachshish Forest, in the foothills of the Judean Mountains in southern Israel, according to Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) members.
The fort was demolished about 112 B.C. — decades after the Hanukkah “miracle” in Jerusalem — when a Maccabee leader and Jewish high priest named Johanan (John) Hyrcanus led the Hasmoneans in their continuous campaign for independence from the Seleucid Empire, according to IAA representatives.
Located on a tall hill, the fortress would have had a commanding view of the major road and adjacent Maresha, a bustling and vital Hellenistic capital city. According to the statement, the structure was likely “part of a fortified line erected by Hellenistic army commanders” and was intended to protect Maresha from Hasmonean attacks.
The perimeter of the fort was around 50 feet (15 meters) broad and 15 meters long, while the external stone walls were approximately 10 feet (3 meters) wide and were carved to slope outward, obstructing climbers. On the inside, archaeologists discovered seven rooms that were approximately 6.6 feet (2 meters) tall; a stairwell led to an additional level that was not preserved but had it been, the fort’s height would have been approximately 16 feet (5 meters), according to IAA representatives.
More About the Research
The team unearthed hundreds of items beneath the wreckage of the fort’s fallen upper level. Archaeologists discovered iron weapons, slingshots, ceramics, and coins dating to the second century B.C. after sweeping away thousands of stones. Charred wooden beams indicated that the fort had been overrun by military troops and torched by the victorious soldiers, who were most likely Hasmoneans led by Hyrcanus.
About the Maccabee Rebels
According to the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Hasmoneans organized their opposition to the Seleucids following King Antiochus IV’s demolition of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. The Maccabee rebels (the name translates as “hammer”) eventually recovered and rededicated the temple, but were unable to secure enough ceremonial oil to light the temple’s new menorah for a single day. According to the so-called Hanukkah miracle, that modest amount of oil burned for eight days – long enough for the temple priests to generate enough fresh oil each day to relight the menorah. To honor the occasion, Jews light eight-branched menorahs over the eight nights of Hanukkah.
The discovery of the fort provides insight into the Maccabee rebels’ battles and successes thousands of years ago, corroborating and bringing to life the classic Hanukkah traditions, Hili Tropper, Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sports, said in a statement.
The IAA stated that after excavations at the site are done, the stronghold will be conserved and subsequently offered to the public for visitation.
The Rosary Beads of Mary, Queen of Scots’s Have Been Stolen
In a daring heist from Arundel Castle in England, the prayer beads of the infamous 16th-century Mary, Queen of Scots were stolen. According to a castle spokesperson, the beads and other stolen treasures are worth roughly $1.4 million (1 million British pounds), but their historical significance is “priceless.”
Burglars in Arundel Castle
The castle in West Sussex was broken into on May 20, less than a week after it reopened to the public after being closed for most of the virus outbreak. The burglars allegedly entered through a castle window, destroyed the glass case housing the antiquities, and fled with the contents before security could respond to the alert, according to police. According to the BBC, the burglars most likely utilized a 4×4 as their getaway car, then lit it on fire and abandoned it nearby.
The spokesperson of Arundel Castle told the BBC that the rosary is of little intrinsic value, but it’s irreplaceable as a piece of the nation’s heritage. The robbers also took a set of coronation cups that Mary gave to the Earl Marshal, a regal title currently held by the Duke of Norfolk Edward William Fitzalan-Howard, the current owner of all the stolen relics.
According to the BBC, Mary, Queen of Scots, who briefly ruled Scotland and was thought by some to be the rightful heir to the English throne, carried the ornate set of gold rosary beads during her 18-year imprisonment by her paranoid cousin Elizabeth I, Queen of England, and even held them during her execution in 1587.
Who Was Mary, Queen of Scots?
Mary, Queen of Scots was the only child of King James V of Scotland, who died only six days after she was born, leaving the country in the hands of regents. Mary was transported to France, her mother’s birthplace, when she was five years old, where she grew up in King Henry II’s court and eventually married his son Francis, who gained the French throne in 1559. As a result, Mary became France’s Queen consort. Francis, on the other hand, died young, barely a year later, leaving Mary a widow at the age of 18.
Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 to claim the throne of Scotland, but she was despised by the Scottish nobility. Scotland had gone from Roman Catholic to Protestant during her exile, and many considered the openly Catholic and France-raised Queen to be a stranger. The Scottish nobility revolted after six years and two poor marriages by Mary, the first of which resulted in the birth of her son James, and she was compelled to flee to England so she could take refuge with her cousin Elizabeth I, the Queen of England.The spokesperson