Middle East

Ritual cups, cemetery shed light on ancient Jewish retreat at Yavne

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People work at the site of an excavation believed to be from the time of the Sanhedrin, the late first and second centuries CE according to the Israel Antiquities Authority in Yavne, Israel November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

YAVNE, Israel, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Archaeological finds in Israel have shed light on Yavne, an ancient town that served as the retreat for Jewish authorities after the fall of Jerusalem during a rebellion against Roman rule.

The excavation unearthed ruins of a building with cups made of chalkstone, a material deemed appropriate for Jewish religious rites, pointing to the presence of the exiled Sanhedrin legislative assembly, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Cited by the Roman historian Josephus, Yavne served as focal point of Jewish activity. According to Jewish scripture, the Sanhedrin was reconstituted there with Roman consent during a rebellion that led to the second century fighting in Jerusalem.

"This is a direct voice from the past, from the period when the Jewish leadership salvaged the remaining fragments from the fall of the (Jerusalem) Temple," the Authority said in a statement.

Also discovered near the site was a cemetery with dozens of graves, including sarcophagi, and more than 150 glass phials placed on top of the tombs, which the Authority said were probably used to store fragrant oils.

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Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alex Richardson

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