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Ancient village questions belief that Jewish fled

Discovery of an ancient village just outside Jerusalem has brought into question one of the strongest images of biblical times the wholesale flight of Jews running for their lives after the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD Just beneath the main road leading north from Jerusalem, archaeologists have found the walls of houses in a well-planned community that existed after the temple?s destruction.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 13:56 IST

Discovery of an ancient village just outside Jerusalem has brought into question one of the strongest images of biblical times the wholesale flight of Jews running for their lives after the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD Just beneath the main road leading north from Jerusalem, archaeologists have found the walls of houses in a well-planned community that existed after the temple’s destruction.

It might lead to rewriting the history books if it was really Jewish. But at least one expert isn’t sure it was. The discovery of stone vessels indicate Jews in the village continued to live by religious purity laws after 70 AD, said Debbie Sklar-Parnes, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who is overseeing the dig.

This is the first evidence that Jews lived so close to Jerusalem about 1.5 kilometers away after the destruction of the Second Temple, Sklar-Parnes said. Archaeologists used pottery and coins found at the site to estimate that people lived there from around 70 to 132 AD, when the Romans crushed a second Jewish revolt.

About 30 Palestinian workers for the Israel Antiquities Authority some of them sent to dig here by the government instead of collecting unemployment uncovered and brushed dust off 2,000-year-old glass jewelry, bronze coins and stone vases in the hole carved out in the middle of the road as cars whizzed by. “We were surprised to find such a massive settlement,” Sklar-Parnes said. She estimated the village covered between three and four acres.

She said it is impossible to tell if the settlement was built before or after the destruction of the temple, though life continued there after 70 AD. But Hebrew University historian Lee Levine questioned whether the village was actually Jewish. During the years of the settlement, most historians believe observant Jews no longer used wine made by non-Jews.

And assuming the settlement existed before the destruction of the temple, it is unusual there were no ritual baths, which were tied directly to temple rituals, Levine added.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 13:40 IST