The burnt-out remains of a fortress outpost that once protected the Hellenistic city of Maresha has been excavated in central Israel. The 50 ft by 50 ft (15m by 15m) structure had walls that were over 13 ft (3m) thick and were constructed with large stones arranged with a slope on the outside to prevent them from being scaled. A significant destruction layer over 1.5 ft (0.5m) thick was discovered throughout the ruins. Archaeologists discovered the remains of weapons, burnt wooden beams, pottery, and coins within the destruction layer which allowed them to date it to the 2nd century BC. Scholars believe the fortress was destroyed by the Hasmonean army of John Hyrcanus in ca. 112 BC. John Hyrcanus’ battles are described in the non-canonical book of Maccabees and by Josephus. The announcement of the discovery comes ahead of Hanukkah, also called the Feast of Dedication, which commemorates the Hasmonean victory over the Greek Seleucid rulers and the purification and rededication of the Temple. Jesus himself celebrated the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22-39.
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