Book: About Edom and Idumea in the Persian Period
Chapter: 9. A Monumental Hellenistic-Period Ritual Compound in Upper Idumea: New Findings from Ḥorbat ʿAmuda
Michal Haber, Oren Gutfeld, and Pablo Betzer’s “A Monumental Hellenistic-Period Ritual Compound in Upper Idumea: New Findings from Ḥorbat ʿAmuda,” provides the first preliminary results of a newly discovered site in Idumea that relates to an “Idumean Temple.” In 2017, the Beit Lehi Regional Project was inaugurated following nearly a decade of excavations at the Judean lowland site of Ḥorbat Beit Lehi (Loya). Within the framework of the project’s drone survey – encompassing a total study area of 36 sq km – the remains of a massive structure were detected at Ḥorbat ʿAmuda, lying approximately 4 km south of Maresha. Subsequent excavations at the site have revealed a unique edifice featuring fine ashlar and header-and-stretcher construction and extending over an area of at least 75 × 57 m, divided into different wings that have been assigned a ritual or ceremonial function. Unearthed in one chamber, adjacent to a stone-built podium, was a small votive assemblage comprising several ceramic unguentaria along with two limestone incense burners, the larger of which bears a carved image of a bull standing in the façade of a temple. The authors propose identifying the compound as an administrative and/or cultic center that served the hinterlands of Maresha, first established in the early third century BCE under Ptolemaic rule. Corresponding to the findings from Beit Lehi, located only 1 km to the south, the authors maintain that the site was destroyed over the course of the Hasmonean Revolt of 167–164 BCE and not, as had long been posited regarding other sites in the region – namely Maresha –by John Hyrcanus ca. 113/112 BCE.