In Israel, archaeologists say they have excavated the remains of a 2,100-year-old farmhouse that the owners likely hastily abandoned, perhaps to avoid an imminent military invasion.
A farm “frozen in time”
The site, called Horbat Assad, is east of the Sea of Galilee. The remains of this old farmhouse were discovered during surveys in anticipation of a project to channel water from the Mediterranean coast. The new pipeline is part of a desalination project that will supply fresh water to agricultural lands in Israel and neighboring countries.
On site, archaeologists excavated agricultural tools, such as pickaxes and iron scythes, as well as coins tentatively dated to the second half of the 2nd century BC. The team also came across ancient storage jars still intact, as well as several loom weights laid out on a shelf. According to the researchers, this suggests that those who lived there left them behind by leaving in a hurry.
“It seems they left in a hurry in the face of imminent danger, possibly the threat of a military attack,” said archaeologist Amani Abu-Hamid, who led the excavations for the Antiquities Authority of Israel (IAA). “We were very lucky to discover a time capsule, frozen in time, in which the finds remained where they had been left by the occupants of the site.”
The occupants of this farm probably kept herds of sheep or goats. Further research is needed to determine their identity.
A flight to escape from whom?
If archaeologists still do not know who they were, it is possible that they were subjects of the Seleucid Empire. The Seleucids ruled the southern Jewish kingdom of Judea at this time as a “client kingdom”. Many Jews had returned from exile in Babylon and were allowed to practice their religion there.
However, we know from historical sources that the Judean Hasmonean Kingdom, a dynasty that came to power in Judea during the Maccabean revolt in 168-167 BC. J.-C, had finally extended to Galilee during this period. We could then imagine that these farmers were trying to escape this invasion.