The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced this week that a 2,800-year-old farmhouse had been uncovered during excavations carried out prior to construction in the area of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel. The building, consisting of an impressive 23 rooms, will be preserved for the benefit of the public.
Amit Shadman, excavation director on behalf of the IAA, explained in a press release, “The farm, which is extraordinarily well-preserved, extends across an area of 30 × 40 m and was built in the eighth century BCE, the time of the Assyrian conquest. Farm houses during this period served as small settlements of sorts whose inhabitants participated in processing agricultural produce.”
“The numerous wine presses discovered in the vicinity of the settlement indicate the wine industry was the most important branch of agriculture in the region. A large silo, which was used to store grain, shows that the ancient residents were also engaged in growing cereal.”
According to Shadman, the farmhouse appears to have remained in use through long stretches of history, including the Persian period, when Jews returned to Israel from the first exile, and the Hellenistic period, when Alexander the Great arrived in the region.
A Greek coin with the inscription ΑΛΕΞΑNΔΡΟΥ (Alexander) was found at the farmhouse. It is silver, with the image of the Greek god Zeus on the inscribed side side and the hero Heracles (known in Rome as Hercules) on the other.
Alexander faced little opposition when he arrived in Israel, as he showed great respect for the local religion and the Temple. In time, however, increasingly repressive laws instituted by his successors and the influence of Greek culture on the local Jewish population led to war. The miraculous Jewish victory and subsequent miracle of the oil which lasted eight days instead of the anticipated one are celebrated annually at this time of year during the Hanukkah holiday which began Tuesday night.
During the Ottoman period, a lime kiln was dug into the building, taking advantage of its stones as a ready source of raw materials. Due to its highly intact state, the IAA has opted to conserve the farmhouse in its present location for the benefit of the residents and visitors of Rosh Ha’ayin.