Excavations in Lachish Forest, Israel, have uncovered the remains of a Hellenistic fortified structure built by the Seleucids c.2,100 years ago as part of a line of defences intended to protect the city of Maresha from attack by the Hasmoneans.
The building measures 15m x 15m and once stood c.5m high, with 3m-thick walls and a sloping glacis to prevent attackers from scaling the outside. However, these defences appear to have been unsuccessful, as the building was destroyed and badly burnt.
Excavations directed by Saar Ganor, Vladik Lifshits, and Ahinoam Montagu, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, also discovered weapons, pottery, charred wooden beams, and dozens of coins dating to the late 2nd century BC, suggesting that the building’s destruction was related to the region’s conquest by Hasmonean leader John Hyrcanus in c.112 BC. These events are detailed in the works of Flavius Josephus and play a key part in the story of Hanukkah.