Jerusalem Discoveries: New stone courses for Western Wall, theater-type structure

The IAA has announced new discoveries from excavations under Wilson’s Arch, near the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The press release includes interesting details and I encourage you to read it.

Some excerpts and photos:

“Eight stone courses of the Western Wall that had been buried under an 8-meter layer of earth were recently uncovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Western Wall Tunnels in Jerusalem.  These stone courses, completely preserved, are built of massive stones and are outstanding in the quality of their construction.

“Furthermore, after the removal of this layer of soil, the archaeologists were surprised to discover that it covered the remnants of an extraordinary theater-like structure from the Roman period… Apparently, a great deal was invested in the construction of the theater which contained approximately 200 seats.”

Uziel at theater structure

Dr. Joe Uziel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, sitting on the steps of the theater structure. (Photograph: Yaniv Berman, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

The new stone courses match the level of others in the Western Wall tunnels. Having been buried for so many centuries, these are better preserved than the exposed stones at the Western Wall. They show typical massive, high-quality Herodian masonry.

New stone courses_Kotel

Eight courses of the Western Wall were discovered in the excavation. (Photograph: Yaniv Berman, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)

I suggest watching this short video to see exactly what they found.

Wilson’s Arch is visible inside a synagogue to the left (north) of  the Western Wall plaza today. The larger archway in this photo is the synagogue entrance.

Western Wall plaza looking NE

Wilson’s Arch is inside the larger of the two archways in this photo. The archway visible here is currently the entrance to a synagogue. Wilson’s Arch dominates the view inside when you look up. 2,000 years ago, Wilson’s Arch supported a bridge leading to the Temple Mount. (photo by Luke Chandler)

Wilson Arch_Kotel

The Western Wall and the Western Wall Tunnels – general view. (Photograph: Yaniv Berman, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Western Wall plaza

The Western Wall is among the most familiar sights to visitors of modern Jerusalem. The new discoveries were found under the structures immediately to the left of the plaza. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Western Wall plaza excavations

Most visitors today do not see this view. The Western Wall plaza clearly sits on top of the past. For years, archaeologists have been excavating below visitors’ and worshippers’ feet. A street from 2nd-century Jerusalem is easily visible near the bottom left of this photo. (photo by Luke Chandler)

Not surprisingly, there are plans to open this new area to tourists. Perhaps it will be ready in time for my May, 2018 tour?

Update: Leen Ritmeyer has images on his blog  showing how Wilson’s Arch appeared with the Temple Mount some 2,000 years ago. He also has an impressive photo of Wilson’s Arch inside the modern synagogue by the Western Wall.


About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Ancient Architecture, archaeologists, Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, New Discoveries, Short videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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