from a front page story on Haaretz.com today:
Excavation near Jerusalem's Dung Gate unearths ancient mansion
By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced Wednesday that the mansion it has been uncovering in Jerusalem may have been a palace belonging to Queen Helene of Adiabene.
The mansion is beneath the Givati parking lot near the Dung Gate.
Dig director Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, said the structure, unearthed across the street from the City of David Visitors Center, was of unusual proportions for the Second Temple period and may have belonged to the royal family of Adiabene, of which Queen Helene was the best-known member.
He added that the final word was not in yet, and that he would have to wait until the excavation was expanded in the coming season to securely determine the identity of the entire complex.
Helene of Adiabene, who converted to Judaism some 2,000 years ago and moved to Jerusalem, built grand residences in the area of the City of David. She was known in Jewish sources as a righteous woman, one of the queens of Adiabene, a kingdom on the upper Tigris river. The Roman-era Jewish historian Josephus mentions her in his book "The Antiquities of the Jews" and mentions her son, Monbaz II, a number of times. He relates how she converted to Judaism together with her son, under the influence of two Jews, and how the she and Monbaz assisted the Jews of Jerusalem during the Great Revolt. According to historical sources, Helene came to Jerusalem to sacrifice in the Temple after her conversion, and distributed money generously to the poor. She spent the rest of her life in one of the palaces she built in the City of David.
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