Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Has the Acra been found?

ISRAEL ANTIQUTIES AUTHORITY PRESS RELEASE: Has the Acra from 2,000 years ago been found? Researchers with the Israel Antiquities Authority believe they have found the remains of the stronghold - the Acra - which the Greeks used to control the Temple more than 2,000 years ago - and evidence of the Hasmonean attempts to conquer the stronghold.
In recent months, excavators believe that they have exposed evidence of the Acra citadel on the City of David hill: a section of a massive wall, a base of a tower of impressive dimensions (width c. 4 m, length c. 20 m) and a glacis. The glacis, which was built next to the wall, is a defensive sloping embankment composed of layers of soil, stone and plaster, designed to keep attackers away from the base of the wall. This embankment extended as far down as the bottom of the Tyropoeon - the valley that bisected the city in antiquity and constituted an additional obstacle in the citadel's defenses. Lead sling shots, bronze arrowheads and ballista stones that were discovered at the site and stamped with a trident, which symbolized the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, are the silent remains of battles that were waged there at the time of the Hasmoneans, in their attempt to conquer the citadel which was viewed as a ‘thorn in the flesh' of the city.
Whatever this is, it is an important discovery. But Leen Ritmeyer, who is an archaeologist with expertise in ancient Jerusalem, isn't buying the identification with the Acra (Akra): Was One of Jerusalem’s Greatest Archaeological Mysteries solved?
The Seleucid Akra therefore stood on a hill very close to the Temple Mount. What hill is there to be seen in the Givati parking lot? It appears therefore that the Israel Antiquities Authority once again tries to make sensational headlines with an unworkable theory in order to get some publicity.
I don't have an opinion on this one. It will be interesting to see how the discussion develops.

Both links above HT Joseph Lauer.

UPDATE (5 November): More here.