New Discovery Solves Centuries-Old Jewish Riddle
What archaeologists found under a parking lot is 'a dream come true'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 4, 2015 2:32 PM CST
Updated Nov 8, 2015 6:17 AM CST
   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – More than 100 years of searching and 10 years of digging culminated in a find Jewish archaeologists are calling "a dream come true," LiveScience reports. The Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes—the "villain" of Hanukkah—built the Acra 2,000 years ago to exert control over Jerusalem, according to the Times of Israel. On Tuesday, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced the ruins of the fortress had finally been found—under a parking lot. LiveScience reports the find—a large section of wall, a 65-foot-tall-tower, ancient slingshot balls and arrowheads—ends a long-standing debate on where the Acra was located. The IAA calls it the "solution to one of the great archaeological riddles in the history of Jerusalem," according to the Times.

Antiochus attempted to stamp out Jewish religious rights and used the Acra—mentioned in the Book of Maccabees and by the Roman historian Flavius Josephus—in the siege of Jerusalem in 168 BC, the Times reports. According to LiveScience, the fortress was manned by mercenaries and Hellenized Jews and controlled access to the Temple Mount. Ekathimerini reports the Acra held throughout the Maccabean rebellion—celebrated by Hanukkah—that took back Jerusalem, but finally fell after a prolonged siege in 141 BC. According to the Times, the ruins of the Acra will be open to the public by December, just in time for Hanukkah.