The Hasmoneans were here - maybe
By Ran Shapira
In late 1995, not far from the city of Modi'in, whose construction had begun a short time earlier, several excavated burial caves were found. The find aroused tremendous excitement initially, mainly because on one of the ossuaries an engraved inscription was interpreted to read "Hasmonean." Had they found a burial plot belonging to the family of the Hasmoneans?
When the discovery was announced, the archaeologist digging there, Shimon Riklin, explained that this was not the grave built by Simon the son of Mattathias the Priest for his father and his brothers, which is described in the Book of Maccabees I. The use of ossuraies - stone containers for secondary burial, in which the bones of the dead who had been removed from their original burial place were placed - began in the second half of the first century BCE, more than a century after the beginning of the Hasmonean Revolt. However, the discovery reinforced the theory that the town of Modi'in, where the revolt broke out in 167 BCE, lay not far from the burial caves, in the area of the present-day Arab village of Midya.
A short time later, the excitement died down. A thorough examination made it clear that the word "Hasmonean" was not engraved on the ossuary. ...
In the decade that has passed, two prominent candidates have joined the steadily lengthening list of locations that have been proposed as the site of ancient Modi'in. The most recent is Khirbet Umm al-Umdan, a site revealed in salvage digs conducted in 2001 by Alexander Onn and Shlomit Wexler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) in the area of the city of Modi'in, on a hill north of the road that connects it with Latrun.
Dr. Shimon Gibson, who conducted the excavations on behalf of the IAA in the area of modern Modi'in in the mid-1990s, when the momentum of construction and development in the area began, actually believes that he has a more worthy candidate. That would be Titura Hill, an archaeological site in the heart of modern Modi'in. In his opinion, one day we will discover that Titura Hill is a site of national importance. At the second Modi'in Conference - a one-day seminar scheduled to take place in the city tomorrow - Wexler-Bdolah and Gibson will present their reasons for identifying each of the sites with the ancient settlement.
(Via Joseph I. Lauer on the ANE list.)