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The Greek compound has been given several names through its long history. The most recent is Hananya Hill, which has been applied to the whole Jewish part of the Abu Tor neighborhood since Israel’s independence in 1948.
The name commemorates the High Priest Hananya (known in Greek as Ananias ben Nebedus) – father- in-law of Caiaphus.
According to the 1st century historian Josephus Flavius, Hananya was buried and had a great monument erected on or close to this hill.
Titus [during the siege of Jerusalem, 70AD] began the wall from the camp of the Assyrians, where his own camp was pitched
“and it went down to the valley of the Fountain,beyond which it went up again at the monument of Ananus the high priest encompassing that mountain where Pompey had formally pitched his camp..”
(Josephus Flavius, Jewish Wars).
In an area long associated with priestly families and ancient military camps, the accidental discovery in 1990 of the family tomb of Caiaphus in the present day Peace Forest below the Haas promenade, just south of Abu Tor, places this area and the Greek Compound firmly at the heart of these ancient legends. During these excavations, several ossuaries were found bearing the roughly-scratched names of various members of this priestly family, along with coins, nails and oil lamps.
Once known as the Hill of Graves because of the number of ancient Jewish tombs found on its slopes, Abu Tor was an important Jewish site for more than 2000 years.
According to Pilgrim literature, it was here, in antiquity, that the Kings of Israel were anointed. Perhaps Hananya’s tomb will still be found.