After centuries of looking, archaeologists have unearthed an ancient Greek fort under a parking lot in Jerusalem.
They found the remains of the fort, known as Acra, in the City of David National Park, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced this week. The discovery comes after a decade of excavations under the lot, which so far have yielded numerous artifacts from more than 10 different ancient cultures.
"It has been an open question in the archaeology of Jerusalem," Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, the excavation director on behalf of the IAA, told Fox News. "For hundreds of years scholars, archaeologists and historians have been looking for the location of this Acra and many, many different locations have been suggested."
Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes took Jerusalem by force in 168 B.C. and banned all Jewish religious practices. He then built Acra, which was roughly 820 feet by 164 feet, in order to maintain control of the temple that sits atop Temple Mount, one of the most important religious sites in Jerusalem. No one could approach the temple without going through the stronghold, Ben-Ami explained in a statement.
Because of this, the fortress was a key target of the Maccabees, the leaders of a Jewish rebel army. They revolted and took back Jerusalem from Antiochus and the Greeks in 167 B.C.
Bronze arrowheads stamped with the symbol of Antiochus' reign were found at the Acra site, archaeologists said, and serve as proof of the attempt to conquer the citadel. Upon victory, the Maccabees re-established traditional Jewish worship at the temple, which is celebrated today as part of the holiday Hanukkah.
"This sensational discovery allows us for the first time to reconstruct the layout of the settlement in the city, on the eve of the Maccabean uprising," Ben-Ami said.
The Acra excavation is ongoing and archeologists hope to unearth even more evidence of the battles that took place during the Hellenistic period in Jerusalem.