As published by Professor Cotton and Wörrle, in 2007, this royal stone stele bears a proclamation by the Seleucid king, Seleucus IV (brother of Antiochus IV), and dates to 178 BCE. The contents of the stele shed light on the Seleucid government's involvement in local temples, mentioning an individual named Olympiodoros, the appointed "overseer" of the temples in Coele Syria – Phoenicia, including Judea. The order of the king was sent to Heliodorus, who was probably the same person mentioned in II Maccabees 3. According to the story in Maccabees, Heliodorus, as the representative of King Seleucus IV, tried to steal the wealth from the Temple in Jerusalem but instead was severely beaten as a result of divine intervention. Three years later Seleucus IV was assassinated and was succeeded by his brother Antiochus IV, who was the ruler who according to II Maccabees eventually issued an edict of persecution against the Jewish people and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem leading to the Maccabean Revolt.
In short, it can be determined that this royal stele originated in the city of Maresha, and adds important archaeological evidence and historical context for understanding the period of time leading up to the Maccabean Revolt, an event celebrated each year on the holiday of Hanukah. Dr. Ian Stern, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority adds, “this discovery is the fruit of a joint effort on the part of the Archaeological Seminars Instititute’s “Dig for a Day” program, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the staff of the of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in the National Park of Beit Guvrin”.
The stele at The Israel Museum has been published by H. Cotton and M. Wörrle (2007, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik) and the portion found in the Maresha excavation will be published soon by D. Gera (forthcoming, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik( .