Monday, July 23, 2012
The lost tombs of the Maccabees
Few ancient sites in the Holy Land have ignited the imagination like the lost tombs of the Maccabees, the family that led a Jewish rebel army to victory against Seleucid religious repression in the second century BCE.
Beginning more than 140 years ago, travelers, clergymen and enthusiastic scholars of varying levels of religious fervor and competence have been looking for the tomb site – described in contemporary sources as a magnificent Hellenistic monument that included pyramids and ships of carved stone and could be seen by sailors on the Mediterranean Sea, 18 miles away. The complex was one of the greatest man-made landmarks in ancient Judea.
No trace of it has ever been found.
For the early archaeologists who arrived in Ottoman Palestine with shovels, Bibles, and a thirst for the physical traces of the events described in Scripture, the tombs were a tantalizing mystery. More than a century later, so they remain.
Today, archaeologists have their eyes on a site that might — just might — provide an answer. Read more here (fascinating article.)