Rare Hellenistic-era structure unearthed

Archaeologists believe to have unearthed remains of an Idumean palace or temple, which dates back 2200 years, at the Horvat‘Amuda site in the Lachish region of the Northern Negev, Israel.

Drone image of the area (by Dane Christensen)

The site is one of the agricultural satellite settlements of Maresha, which later became the Idumean district capital. The Idumeans were a Semitic people originating in Southern Jordan, who settled in the Judean Shephelah foothills in 5th century BC. They converted and assimilated into the Judean population after the area was conquered by the Hasmoneans in 112 BC. According to Oren Gutfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who led the excavations, the unearthed structure is extremely rare. It seems that the building was intentionally dismantled, possibly during the Hasmonean conquest of the region.

Excavations at the site (by Michal Haber)

Archaeologists found two well-preserved stone incense altars in one of the rooms of the structure. One of the altars, bearing the carved image of a bull, is depicted as standing in what is apparently the facade of a temple adorned with prominent columns. The bull, they say, may have symbolized a deity worshipped by the Idumeans. Among other finds are delicate pottery vessels were also uncovered, including painted bowls, juglets and oil lamps.

Incense altar found during excavations (by Clara Amit)

(after Michal Haber, Clara Amit, Dane Christensen & The Jerusalem Post)

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