Remains of building from time of Sanhedrin uncovered in Yavne

i24NEWS

3 min read
Archaeologists and workers excavate a dig site where the first ever building dating from the time of the Sanhedrin, recently discovered during excavations in the central town of Yavne, November 29, 2021.
Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90Archaeologists and workers excavate a dig site where the first ever building dating from the time of the Sanhedrin, recently discovered during excavations in the central town of Yavne, November 29, 2021.

Supreme religious body in ancient Israel exiled to Yavne after fall of Jerusalem

Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a building dating to the time of the Sanhedrin during massive excavations taking place in Yavne, the Israel Antiquities Authorities announced on Monday.

The ancient Jewish court system went into exile after the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago with a religious body in the central coastal city of Yavne taking over many of the functions performed in Jerusalem.

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The building contained fragments of chalk stone vessels, offering clear evidence of a Jewish presence there as the artifacts are identified with Jewish purity rituals in ancient Israel during the late Second Temple period and 2nd century CE.

"The discovery of finds from the time of the Sanhedrin is very exciting," said Pablo Betzer and Dr. Daniel Varga, directors of the Yavne excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority. "This is a direct voice from the past, from the period when the Jewish leadership salvaged the remaining fragments from the fall of the Temple, went into exile in Yavne, and set about re-establishing the Jewish people there."

The excavation was prompted by a development project in the city and was initiated by the Israel Land Authority in cooperation with the Yavne municipality.

A cemetery from the time of the Sanhedrin was also discovered nearby, with over 150 glass phials found on top of the tombs.

“The phials were probably used to keep precious liquids such as fragrant oils. About half of them were locally produced and the other half were imported from Alexandria in Egypt. Phials of this type have been recovered in excavations at both Jewish and pagan burial sites from the first to the early third centuries CE. It is a mystery why the phials were placed outside the tombs in Yavne and not inside them, as was usual," said Dr. Yael Gorin-Rosen, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s glass department.

Yavne was one of the most important ancient cities in Israel's southern coastal plain.

The excavations are open to the public with advanced registration as part of Israel’s Heritage Week over the Chanukah holiday.