2000-year old skeletons in Jerusalem

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
Posts: 200
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

2000-year old skeletons in Jerusalem

Post by StephenGoranson » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:43 am

Ha'aretz Oct. 14, 2018 reports that archaeologists dated some violently killed people to the reign of Alexander Jannaeus. In a leap, they called the skeletons Pharisees; they might indeed be Pharisees, but bones per se don't reveal that. What is more reinforced is that King Jannaeus, who was reportedly advised by Sadducees, was indeed cruel, as noted in


The Ha'aretz artcle is here:

https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/.pr ... -1.6553289

...Most of the 125 skeletons belonged to women and children from the Jewish Pharisee sect, who were likely massacred by king Alexander Yannai of the rival Sadducees, archaeologists say.

Some 125 human skeletons dating back more than 2,000 years have been dug up in the Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem. Researchers have established that most of them are the remains of women and children who belonged to the separatist Pharisee community and had been decapitated. Members of this ancient sect of Judaism opposed the rule of Hasmonean King Alexander Jannaeus – popularly as Alexander Yannai – who apparently slaughtered them in the first century B.C.E.

In the stratum above the skeletons, Israeli archaeologists unearthed burned bones and other remains that are believed to have belonged to Roman legion soldiers serving in Jerusalem.....

....The earliest layer, from the first and second centuries B.C.E. – dated according to the ceramic shards and coins found in situ – consisted of the remains of at least 125 individuals, including men but also mostly women, children and infants. Three tiny skeletons found there are presumed to be fetuses from the wombs of murdered women. A large number of the skeletons had marks showing that neck vertebrae and skulls had been cut or severed.

It was evident that the incisions had not healed, so the IAA team concluded that they had been the cause of death – in the majority of cases, by decapitation. An examination of the skeletons also showed there was no trauma or other wounds in the hands and feet, corroborating the conclusion that the death was not caused during battle, but by execution.

The skeletons were lying at the base of the huge cistern in a disorderly fashion, not in a typical burial position, so the researchers assumed the bodies had been thrown in after the execution. ....

Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:27 pm

Re: 2000-year old skeletons in Jerusalem

Post by semiopen » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:56 am

Thanks for posting this Stephen.

During the Jewish holiday of Feast of Tabernacles, Alexander Jannaeus, while officiating as the High Priest at the Temple in Jerusalem, demonstrated his displeasure against the Pharisees by refusing to perform the water libation ceremony properly: instead of pouring it on the altar, he poured it on his feet.[14] The crowd responded with shock at his mockery and showed their displeasure by pelting Alexander with the etrogim (citrons) that they were holding in their hands. Outraged, he ordered soldiers to kill those who insulted him, more than 6,000 people in the Temple courtyard were massacred. With further frustration, Alexander had wooden barriers built around the altars preventing people from sacrificing and denied daily offerings except for the priests. He also allied himself with foreign troops such as the Pisidians and the Cilicians who would later help his regime during the civil war.[13] This incident during the Feast of Tabernacles was a major factor leading up to the Judean Civil War by igniting popular opposition to Jannaeus.[14]
Of course there is little doubt, that this is not completely accurate.
Jannaeus had brought the surviving rebels back to Jerusalem where he had 800 Jews, primarily Pharisees, crucified. Before their deaths, Alexander had the rebels' wives and children executed before their eyes as Jannaeus ate with his concubines. Alexender later returned the land he had seized from the Nabateans in order to have them end their support for the Jewish rebels. The remaining rebels, who numbered 8,000, fled by night in fear of Alexander. After, all rebel hostility ceased and Alexander's reign continued in peace.[16]
Decapitation is a new Judean execution method to me. Neither that or crucifixion made the Talmud.

Post Reply