There is no doubt today that the ‘official’ location of the Maccabean graves at Kubur al-Yahud situated on the northern side of Road 443, near Modi’in, is not the real site. The site contains 20 stone tombs cut deep into the rock. However they are not monumental and cannot be seen from the sea, as per Joshephus (Antiquities XIII:211–213).
All the evidence points to the fact that these graves are of Christians and pagans of the Byzantine period and that this burial site actually belongs to an ancient monastery. In fact, the tombs are from about 500 years later than the days of the Maccabees.
How to go there: On Road 443, near its northern side, about three kilometers from Modi’in.
Not far away, is the site know in Arabic as Sheikh al Gharbawi (Sheikh of the West). In Hebrew it is Horbat Ha-Gardi, Yohanan Hagardi Ruins, located c. 3 km northwest of the town of Modi‘in, next to the settlement of Mevo Modi‘in and alongside a dirt track (the patrol road) from Kubur al-Yahud.This site is named after Yohanan Hagardi, son of Mattathias [Matityahu]. Gardi means a weaver (or perhaps a furrier). A number of burial rooms were discovered, possibly with pyramid-like roofs as per Josephus Flavius’ description. This is one of the sites identified with the Tomb of the Maccabees and also the site of al-Midiya, ancient Modi’in.
The ruin consists of two sites: the tomb of Sheikh Gharbawi and 18 m to the north, the remains of a magnificent structure, which the local villagers refer to as al-Qala‘a (the fortress).
The authentic site of the Hasmonean Graves described by Josephus is still a moot question.
How to go there: From Kivrei Hamacabim, walk one kilometer up the dirt road, north of the site with the sign “Grave of the Maccabees”.
The Hasmonean Village is an open museum near Modi’in. The museum, which offers activities to children and their families, displays the lifestyles of the Hasmoneans, offering a tour and various activities in the reconstructed village, such as a bow and arrow range, ancient writing pens, making oil lamps of clay or preparing medicinal plants bags from the herbs that grown in the village.
Kfar Hashmonaim, Shilat 08-976-1617 or 054-448-0463 firstname.lastname@example.org