December 2012: According to the Israeli Antiquities Authority, “Israeli archaeologists digging under a road” in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Ha-Yovel neighborhood “have uncovered the remains of an agricultural community that could yield new information on the lives of” average people living “before and after the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty around 2,200 years ago.” This agricultural settlement appears to have been active both before and after the rise of the Hasmoneans to power.
The Hasmoneans came to power in 164 BCE, upon re-dedicating the Temple in Jerusalem. It is believed that the Maccabean Revolt relied mainly on farmers. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, “The farmers adhered closely to the Torah, especially to the precepts pertaining to the land, such as the year of release.
Archaeologists have found “a perfume bottle, wine press, bread oven and the remains of houses and agricultural buildings. Archaeologists also found a hand-made lead weight with […] the letter “yod,” the tenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the equivalent of the English letter “y.”” Daniel Ein Mor, the chief archaeologist for the site, has stated, “We discovered rock foundations in the buildings, pointing to a huge investment. The quality of the construction is excellent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if future findings reveal it is even something bigger.”
Mor stated, “Up to now we have discovered very few sites that date back to the early period of the Hellenistic era in this area, which served as the agricultural periphery of Jerusalem. Very little is known about the materials used and the history of the residents of Jerusalem and its environs during the third and fourth centuries before the Common Era and before the Hasmonean revolt took place. The site that was discovered recently will help us understand how residents lived in this area at that time.”