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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hasmonean rule reached the Negev in Israel, declare archaeologists

Jerusalem, December 13 (ANI): The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has announced that it had found physical proof that the Hasmoneans’ rule, which lasted from the middle of the second century BCE to the middle of the first, extended deep into the Negev.

“We are talking about a revolutionary discovery that will redraw the maps of the region which describe that era,” Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, the scientific editor of the excavation, said in a statement.

“Despite the evidence of the historian Josephus, according to which (the Hasmoneans’ rule extended south of Gaza), no clear archeological proof of this has been found in the field. And it was because of this lack of proof that historians were inclined to dismiss the possibility that the Hasmoneans did indeed control the Negev,” he added.

The excavation centered around one of the sites - Horvat Ma’agura, about two miles west of the Sde Boker region - where the “Incense Road” ran between Petra and Gaza.

The IAA found that after the Hasmoneans conquered Gaza in 99 BCE, King Alexander Jannaeus - the great-grandson of Hasmonean leader Matityahu - built a fortress that was used to halt the Nabateans along the Incense Road.

The layout of the fortress originally led researchers to believe that it was a Roman stronghold from centuries later, but it is now clear that the Hasmoneans used the fortress to keep enemies out of their land until 66 BCE.

The IAA also found coins of Jannaeus at Nessana - about 40 kilometers west of Horvat Ma’agura - further solidifying proof that the Negev was under Hasmonean rule. (ANI)

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