The remains of a 2,200-year-old fortification at Kiriath-Jearim, a hill on the outskirts of Abu Ghosh, a village near Jerusalem have been uncovered by researchers. According to archaeologists in Israel who made the discovery, they believe it is the location of the biblical town of Emmaus, where Jesus first appeared to two followers after being crucified and resurrected.
According to Professor Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University who led the archaeologist project alongside Thomas Romer and Christopher Nicolle of the College de France, the hill and village should be identified as Emmaus. The massive walls of the Hellenistic fortification are believed to have been built by the Seleucid general who defeated Judah the Maccabee, the Jewish leader spoken of in the Hanukkah story.
The project at Kiriath-Jearinm is being run by Tel Aviv University and the College de France. It is being supported by the Shmunis family from San Francisco
Describing the site, Finkelstein told Haaretz:
‘The importance of this site, its dominant position over Jerusalem, was felt again and again through time: in the eighth century B.C.E., and then again in the Hellenistic period and then again after the First Jewish Revolt and the sack of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.”
Finkelstein told Fox News:
‘The finds at Kiriath-Jearim hint at its long-term role as guarding the approach to Jerusalem. The Hellenistic and Roman period remains shed light on the much-debated issue of the location of the New Testament’s Emmaus.’
“Geographically I think that the distance to Jerusalem fits well, so I do think that Kiriath Yearim could have been the Emmaus of the New Testament.”
However, an emeritus professor of ancient history from Tel Aviv University, Benjamin Isaac is of the opinion that there are at least two other sites nearby which also have strong claims to be Emmaus. He warns:
“Finkelstein and Römer have a good case archaeologically, geographically, and topographically. However, it is a hypothesis and remains a hypothesis.”
The latest research, including the claims bout Emmaus, are detailed in a forthcoming paper published in the journal ‘New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region.’