According to ancient sources, the burial site of the heroes of the Hanukkah story was marked with imposing stone pyramids. A 19th-century French archaeologist thought he had discovered the tomb at a site known as Horvat ha-Gardi, but his conclusion was soon called into question. Now, writes Robin Ngo, modern archaeologists are revisiting his work:
When . . . Victor Guérin excavated Horvat ha-Gardi in 1870, he found a large ashlar structure and a burial chamber, all covered with what he believed was a pyramid-like construction such as that described in the book of Maccabees. He contended that he identified seven tombs, one for each member of the Maccabee family. “The ruins of the tomb correspond perfectly to the tomb of the Maccabees as described in the historical sources,” Guérin wrote. . . .
Recently, the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to re-investigate the site of Horvat ha-Gardi. The aim of the project . . . is to “embark upon a campaign in search of the tomb of the Maccabees, in order to solve the riddle surrounding the place once and for all, and to do so utilizing the tools of modern research.” . . . The team re-exposed the burial chamber, huge pillars that could support a second story, a forecourt, and other related buildings.
Commenting on the investigation, [its directors] said, “The appearance of the place is impressive. . . . The archaeological evidence currently at hand is still insufficient to establish that this is the burial place of the Maccabees. If what we uncovered is not the tomb of the Maccabees itself, then there is a high probability that this is the site that early Christians identified as the royal funerary enclosure.”
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access