Ramat Rachel excavations yield stunning finds

Sunday, October 07, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

During the recently concluded third season of renews excavations at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel on the southern edge of Jerusalem, archeologists made finds that shed a great deal of light on the site's past as a major administrative center during the biblical and pre-Islamic periods.

The director of the excavation told The Jerusalem Post that the goal was to expand on digs done at the site during the 1950s, which successfully uncovered a Byzantine church.

Prior to the Byzantine period, a newly discovered garden and sophisticated water system connected to a large palace-like building indicate the site was an important administrative center.

The suggested history of Ramat Rachel is that the location served as the seat of the Assyrian governor of Judea during the seventh century BC. Successive Persian and Greek rulers used the site for similar purposes, before it was destroyed when the Jews regained full sovereignty over their country under the Hasmonean dynasty. The Romans later built a large military camp at the site, which was later embellished by the Byzantines.

The digs at Ramat Rachel are being carried out jointly by Tel Aviv University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Three more seasons of excavations are currently planned.

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