A large Hasmonean-era Jewish agricultural village was uncovered by archaeologists in the Arab neighborhood of Sharafat, with a major, multi-generational burial chamber, olive press, ritual baths, a water cistern, dovecote, rock quarries and jar fragments dating back to the time of the Maccabees, providing concrete evidence of the Jewish history of Jerusalem as far back as 2,150 years ago.

The excavation was funded by the Moriah Jerusalem development corporation on behalf of the City of Jerusalem as part of preparation for the construction of a new elementary school in the Muslim and Christian Arab neighborhood of Sharafat, between Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo and the neighborhood of Gilo on the southeastern side of the city.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said that part of the site, which is believed to have been home to a wealthy or important family, may eventually open for an exhibit.

“Such quality craftsmanship of architectural elements is very rare, found mostly in monumental buildings or burial estates in the Jerusalem area, such as the burial estate of the priestly family of Benei Hazir in the Kidron Valley, and several tombs in the Sanhedria neighborhood.”

Jerusalem is believed to have grown from 5,000 residents centered around the City of David to 25,000 residents under the Hasmoneans, necessitating increased agriculture around the city.

A mikvah, or ritual bath, was found in the area in 1994 and a Hasmonean coin in 2007.