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Expedition to Ancient Jewish City Planned by Art Museum

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The Cleveland Museum of Art will participate in a joint expedition which will be conducted during the coming year on the site of the ancient Greek city of Seleucia on the Tigris River, according to an announcement just made. Excavations on the site of Seleucia, which was once conquered by the Maccabeans and became a Jewish city for a time, were begun a few years ago. The present expedition will aim to unearth art and archaeological treasures of the ancient city, which will have a bearing not only upon the Babylonian and Greek phases of its history, but also upon the period when it was within the ancient Jewish domain.

Seleucia, which in more ancient times was the Opis of Babylonia and which was later conquered by Alexander the Great, was conquered by Alexander Jannai, who succeeded his brother Aristobulus as King of Judea in 103 B. C. He forced its inhabitants to abandon idolatry and adopt the rites of Judaism. Seleucia was one of many conquered cities whose inhabitants were forced by the Hasmonean power to adopt Judaism.

As ruler of the Greek people in Seleucia, Alexander Jannai ordered coins to be struck off bearing the inscription “King Alexander” in Greek characters upon one side, and the inscription “Jehonathan ha-Melech” (Jonathan the King) in Hebrew characters on the other. His Hebrew title as set forth on earlier Hebrew coins had been “The High Priest Jonathan, the Commonwealth of the Judeans”.

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