Ancient underground rooms discovered near the Wailing Wall

Posted on May 29, 2020

 

The archaeological excavations of the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem have uncovered some underground rooms hidden under a floor…they are remnants of different historical periods, the oldest of which dates back to the first century AD.

D BARAK MONNICKENDAM-GIVON
Archaeologist

“The first thing we see here is a large Byzantine public building built about 1400 years ago and decorated with large arches, columns and a mosaic floor.”

However, one question remains unanswered: can this structure constitute the remains of a Byzantine church?
This site also includes Islamic traces.

D BARAK MONNICKENDAM-GIVON
Archaeologist

“This building was restored in the Abbasid period, about a thousand years ago, and the floor of one of the two rooms is decorated with mosaics showing abbasid signs intertwined with pieces of marble and granite. This mosaic is considered one of the masterpieces of ancient Islamic art.”

One of the most important surprises of the site was the discovery of a complex underground system dug into the rock.

D BARAK MONNICKENDAM-GIVON
Archaeologist

“Here we found three rooms connected by stairs, entirely carved into the rock, with niches carved into the wall where oil lamps were placed. We found some of these oil lamps, together with kitchen utensils.”

Archaeologist Barak estimates that the construction of this complex can be dated around 50 AD, on the eve of the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman legions and the destruction of the Temple.

D BARAK MONNICKENDAM-GIVON
Archaeologist

“When – in the last phase of the 70’s war between Jews and Romans – Roman legions entered the walls, got into the city and destroyed the temple, people probably used this place, which was underground, to hide.”

Archaeologists have also found inlets in the wall at the entrance for the door hinge and deadbolt…some of which may have been used to store valuables in these rooms. The excavations are still in progress, and who knows, perhaps the most important secrets of this archaeological site near the Wailing Wall are still to be revealed!