Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a 2,300-year-old village at a site where a gas pipeline was going to be built.
Found just outside Jerusalem last August near the “Burma Road” (a supply route for besieged Jerusalem used by Jewish forces in the 1948 war) the remnants of the ancient village date back to the Second Temple period. The site spans 8,000 square feet and contains alleys, single-family stone houses and objects including coins, cooking pots and milling tools, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
"The rooms generally served as residential and storage rooms, while domestic tasks were carried out in the courtyards," Irina Zilberbod, excavation director of the Antiquities Authority, said in a statement.
The site sits 918 feet above sea level on land that is still used for orchards and vineyards. Excavations show that the site reached its peak of development during the third century B.C. and was abandoned during the Hasmonean (Maccabees) dynasty – between 140 and 116 BC.
Archaeologists have not found the name of the ancient village nor the reason why the site was abandoned, but the common assumption is that it vanished for economic reasons rather than a violent incident.
"The phenomenon of villages and farms being abandoned at the end of the Hasmonean dynasty or the beginning of Herod the Great's succeeding rule is one that we are familiar with from many rural sites in Judea, and it may be related to Herod's massive building projects in Jerusalem, particularly the construction of the Temple Mount, and the mass migration of villagers to the capital to work on these projects," Jerusalem Regional Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch said.
Basalt and limestone grinding and milling tools for domestic use, pottery cooking pot and jars for storing liquids were all found in excavations. More than 60 coins including those from the reigns of the (Greek) Seleucid King Antiochus III and the (Jewish) Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus were also uncovered.
The discovery has led to a reassessment of where the new 21-mile long gas line will be constructed to preserve the area and make it accessible for the public.