In time for Hanukkah, Israel reveals artifact bearing name of Hasmonean leaders



A fragment of a 2,100-year-old stone bowl that bears the Hebrew inscription “Hyrcanus,” which was the name of two Jewish Hasmonean dynasty leaders from the era of the Hanukkah story. Israel announced the discovery Thursday. Credit: Clara Amit/Israel Antiquities Authority.

( Just in time for this year’s celebration of Hanukkah (Dec. 24 - Jan. 1), the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced archaeologists’ discovery of a 2,100-year-old stone bowl bearing the Hebrew inscription “Hyrcanus,” which was the name of two of the leaders of the Hanukkah story’s Jewish Hasmonean dynasty.

A fragment of the bowl was unearthed in 2015 during an archaeological excavation at Jerusalem’s City of David landmark, but the finding was not revealed until Thursday. Researchers said the bowl was fashioned from chalk—a type of limestone—and is “one of the earliest examples of chalk vessels to appear in Jerusalem.”

“These stone vessels were extensively used by Jews because they were considered vessels that cannot become ritually unclean,” the IAA’s Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Bar-Ilan University’s Prof. Esther Eshel said in a statement.

The name Hyrcanus, explained the researchers, was “fairly common in the Hasmonean period.” 

“We know of two personages from this period who had this name: John Hyrcanus, who was the grandson of Matityahu the Hasmonean and ruled Judea from 135–104 BCE, and John Hyrcanus II, who was the son of Alexander Jannaeus and Salome Alexandra; however, it is not possible to determine if the bowl belonged specifically to either of them,” said Ben-Ami and Eshel.

Posted on December 22, 2016 .