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Sling bullet from Hasmonean period discovered in central Israel

2,200-year-old projectile designed to be fired from a sling device and bears the word “Victory”

The word “Victory” on a sling bullet found in Yavne. (Photo: Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

A lead sling bullet from the Hasmonean period was found during construction of a new apartment in Yavne, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported on Thursday. 

The 2,200-year-old projectile was designed to be fired from a sling device and bears the word “Victory” on one side, with the names of the gods “Heracles and Hauronas” written in Greek on the other side. The bullet may have belonged to a soldier from the Seleucid army involved in the Hasmonean conflict. 

“In the second century BCE, pagan Yavne – an ally of the Seleucids – were subject to attacks by the Hasmonean armies,” according to excavation directors Pablo Betzer and Daniel Varga. 

According to Prof. Yulia Ustinova from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, “The pair of gods Hauron and Heracles were considered the divine patrons of Yavne during the Hellenistic period.” 

The sling bullet is the first archaeological reference to the two gods discovered in Yavneh itself. 

IAA Director-General Eli Eskosido called the Yavne project “a ‘mega’ excavation.” 

“One of the largest conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority, [the excavation] has yielded fascinating discoveries that testify to a rich and varied history of 7,000 years, and we eagerly await future findings,” Eskosido said. 

The IAA’s announcement of the discovery comes as Jews in Israel and around the world prepare for Hanukkah, the festival celebrating the Hasmonean family’s defeat of the Seleucid forces of Antiochus IV. The Hasmoneans are sometimes referred to as the Maccabees, named after one of their early leaders, called Judah Maccabee – whose name in Aramaic meant “Judah, the hammer.”


The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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