Two thousand years ago, Jerusalem residents in Israel were storing food and water, cooking, maybe even living in a unique subterranean multiple-room structure barely 100 feet away from the holy Temple found by biblical archaeologists.
As Israel prepares to celebrate Jerusalem Day, a commemoration of the day in which Jerusalem was reunified under Israeli sovereignty in 1967, biblical archaeologists are unveiling an utterly amazing historical find. A subterranean complex, preserved in near pristine condition and dating back to the time of Jesus of Nazareth, is being put on display. The purpose of this structure, however, remains shrouded in mystery as ongoing excavations continue to dig for more clues and answers.
“And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” Nehemiah 1:3 (KJB)
2019 was an amazing year for biblical archaeology, and that trend seems to be continuing here in 2020. Pray for the nation of Israel, and pray for the Jewish people who are preparing to enter into the time of Jacob’s trouble. Don’t worry about the disparaging comments your Jewish contacts on Facebook make when you post about the salvation of Jesus, their eyes are closed and they don’t know any better. Witness to them anyway, and pray for their souls in spite of how they might treat you. Time is short, make a difference for the Lord.
Biblical Archaeologists discover 2000-year-old unique complex by the Western Wall
FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: The new discovery was unveiled by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation on Tuesday ahead of Jerusalem Day. Descending into the underground chambers from the Western Wall Plaza, glaring with light and unusually still under the coronavirus regulations and the unprecedented heatwave, is nothing less than a journey back in time before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, when the city was still bustling with Jewish life and rituals.
“At the time of the Second Temple, 2,000 years ago, this was a public area, the civic center of ancient Jerusalem” Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon co-director of the excavation on behalf of the IAA together with Tehila Sadiel told The Jerusalem Post. “We think that the public street passed just a few meters from here and we are standing next to what we archaeologists call the ‘big bridge’ which connected the upper city to the Temple itself.”
The complex features two rooms connected by a staircase and an open courtyard. The entrance presents clear signs of the presence of door hinges and bots, while the walls offered several niches for oil lamps as well as carved in shelves. The structure was discovered under the white mosaic floor of a monumental Byzantine building dating back to about 1,400 years ago.
The large hollow space where both the building and the more ancient chambers stand presents walls erected in the typical Jerusalem stones of different sizes blackened by centuries, pieces of Roman columns, floors built in a variety of materials and at different levels. The excavations are ongoing. In a corner, an IAA conservator was working on preserving the Byzantine mosaic, while a few meters away two archaeologists were sifting through some dirt to make sure it did not contain other artifacts or sherds.
Clay cooking vessels, oil lamps and stone containers, useful to store water minimizing the risk of giving it ritual impurity according to Jewish laws were among the objects retrieved by the researchers so far, allowing them to assess that the carved structure was in use in the first century CE. How much time earlier it was actually built for now remains a mystery, one of the many that will be addressed as the studies proceed.
Several features make the discovery unique, Monnickendam-Givon pointed out. Very few structures from that period survive in the city.
“After the Roman siege and destruction of the year 70 CE, Jerusalem was burned and devastated, and all the Jewish people were exiled. A few decades later, the Romans started rebuilding it from scratch,” he said.
Moreover, usually structures in that period were built in stone, while those who hewed the rooms underground chose to carve them out of the hard bedrock, which required a considerable effort.
“Besides from burials, we have rarely found any complete rock-cut rooms from that era. Most people in ancient Jerusalem lived in stone-built houses. What was the function of this hewn system just under the street level? Was it a house, a storage unit? Something else?” the archaeologist added.
According to Monnickendam-Givon, penetrating the secrets of the site will require another twenty or thirty years of excavations. Among others, a goal is to connect it with the area where the main street passed.
Even the purpose of the Byzantine building whose floor protected the ancient rooms for so many centuries is still shrouded in mystery.
“We do not know whether it was a religious or a civil building,” IAA archaeologist Michael Chernin told the Post. “We do know it collapsed during an earthquake at the beginning of the 11th century.”
Chernin pointed out that in the Crusader period the area was abandoned and it was settled again in the Mameluke period (13th-16th century). Artifacts from these different times were also uncovered by the researchers including worked bone tools, clay vessels, a strainer and a candle holder.
“We want to understand the function of these structures, as well as their connection with the topography of the Roman and Byzantine Jerusalem,” he concluded. “It is possible that more subterranean rooms will also emerge.”
“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,” commented Mordechai Suli Eliav, Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, according to a release. “This finding epitomizes the deep connection of Jews with Jerusalem, their capital. Even when there were physical limitations, prayer at the foot of the remnant of our Temple never ceased, and this is tangible evidence of this.” READ MORE
Biblical Archaeologists Discover 2000 Year Old Complex Under Western Wall In Jerusalem Israel
Biblical Archaeologists have begun to ponder about a new mystery near the Western Wall: Why did people invest such huge efforts and resources in hewing such an impressive subterranean system 2,000 years ago, while life was going on in the homes above ground?
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