JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israeli archaeologists uncovered a 2000-year-old subterranean compound near the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, near the Western Wall tunnels.
The compound, which was sealed off in the Byzantine period about 1,400 years ago, contains two open rooms, a courtyard and several household objects. This unusual finding could shed light on life in the city prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.
The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced the discoveries during the week that Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day marking the liberation and unification of Jerusalem in 1967.
“This is a unique finding. This is the first time a subterranean system has been uncovered adjacent to the Western Wall,” Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehila Sadiel, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a press release.
“You must understand that 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, like today, it was customary to build out of stone. The question is, why were such efforts and resources invested in hewing rooms underground in the hard bedrock?”
According to Dr. Monnickendam-Givon and Sadiel “The rich array of findings discovered in this excavation shed light on the daily life of the residents of the ancient city.”
Philanthropist Nathan Strauss,(who owned both R.H. Macy & Company and Abraham & Straus, and the city of Netanya is named after him) donated funds for a soup kitchen adjacent to the Kotel Plaza. The excavations under this historic structure uncovered extraordinary structures from various periods.
The director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, responded to the findings saying, “I am excited, on the eve of Jerusalem Day, to reveal to the Jewish nation a new treasure trove of impressive and fascinating findings that shed light on life in Jerusalem throughout the generations in general, and on the eve of the destruction in particular.”