Jewish Village From Hasmonean Times Discovered
Israel Today, May 2019
In southern Jerusalem the impressive remains of a 2,000-year-old Jewish village dating back to the time of the Hasmoneans (2nd century BC) have been uncovered. The
ruins are located in what is today the Arab neighborhood of Sharfat. The local community was having a new school built when excavators came across fragments of large clay vessels, then a storage hall, and olive press, a mikveh (ritual bath), cisterns and quarries and numerous buildings. The findings are currently being investigated and catalogued by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Particularly impressive was a burial cave found at the sitethat included a large courtyard cut right into the hillside. The courtyard has recessed seating cut into the rock for visitors and mourners. Behind the sealed entrance are many burial chambers. IAA archaeologists say the cave was most certainly the burial site for a large and wealthy family, and was in use for generations.
The quality of the work and the detailed engravings are comparable to that found at the burial sites for priestly families in the Kidron Valley and other wealthy districts in antiquity.
The area now being excavated is believed to cover only a small portion of the ancient settlement, which extends much further south. It is clear from the findings so far that this was a prosperous village that produced wine, olive oil and kept pigeons, important at that time for communication, as a food source, and for Temple sacrifices