JERUSALEM (RNS) — Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,100-year-old stronghold they believe constitutes physical evidence of the yearslong armed conflict whose crucial battle is celebrated by Jews today during Hanukkah.

What the archaeologists have found, they say, was built by the losers of that conflict: the Seleucids, forces of the occupying Greek empire, who were doing their best to stave off attacks by the Hasmoneans — a family of Jewish priests led by Mattathias and his son Judah — known as Judah the Maccabee. The Seleucids were trying to eradicate Jewish worship and replace it with paganism.

Hanukkah, which begins this year on Sunday evening (Nov. 28), commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees defeated the Hellenistic army about 164 BCE, opening

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