A 2,300 year old village dating to the Seleucid Dynasty (or perhaps earlier) has been uncovered during work on a natural gas pipeline. The settlement reached its peak in the 3rd century BC, and by the time of Herod (1st Century BC) was abandoned.
The settlement was found not far from Mitzpe Harel in the Jerusalem hills. It will be excavated and the pipeline routed around it.
From the Israel Antiquities Authority:
The excavations, which covered about 750 square meters, revealed a small rural settlement with a few stone houses and a network of narrow alleys. Each building, which probably housed a single nuclear family, consisted of several rooms and an open courtyard. According to Irina Zilberbod, excavation director on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, “The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards.”
The site, whose name has not survived, is nestled at the top of a spur 280 meters above sea level, with commanding views of the surrounding countryside. These large tracts of land were used as they are today to cultivate orchards and vineyards, which were the economic mainstay of the region’s early settlers.
The excavations have shown that the site reached the height of its development in the Hellenistic period (during the third century BCE), when Judea was ruled by the Seleucid monarchy following Alexander the Great, and that it was abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty.
The excavations yielded numerous and varied finds from all occupation periods, including basalt and limestone grinding and milling tools for domestic use, pottery cooking pots, jars for storing liquids (oil and wine,) pottery oil lamps for domestic use, and over sixty coins, including coins from the reigns of the Seleucid King Antiochus III and the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus.
It’s not unusual to find villages that were abandoned between the Hasmonean Dynasty and the reign of Herod the Great. Herod’s massive building projects likely drew residents from these small villages to more steady work on the Temple Mount.