Sumptuous Second Temple-era building discovered near Jerusalem’s Western Wall – .

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Sumptuous Second Temple-era building discovered near Jerusalem’s Western Wall – .


A grandiose building dating from the Second Temple period has been unearthed next to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said Thursday.

The structure contained two imposing halls which could have been used to accommodate important dignitaries visiting the city and the Temple. Both halls were decorated with elaborate Corinthian capitols protruding from the walls and connected by a sumptuous fountain.

“It is, without a doubt, one of the most magnificent public buildings of the Second Temple period that has ever been discovered outside the walls of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” said Dr. Shlomit Weksler- Bdolach, Director of Excavations on behalf of the IAA.

The researcher said the structure was probably built around 20 or 30 CE, just decades before the temple was destroyed by the Romans.

“The building, which apparently stood along a street leading to the Temple Mount, was used for public functions – it may even have been the city council building where important dignitaries were received before enter the temple grounds and onto the Temple Mount, ”she said. .

Part of the building was first revealed during work carried out by British archaeologist Charles Warren in the 19th century. The area has been thoroughly searched and is expected to be open to the public in the coming weeks.

“The new route provides a better understanding of the complex and important site known as the Western Wall Tunnels, while highlighting the extent of this magnificent building,” according to IAA architect Shachar Puni. “This creates a new route for visitors that crosses the building and leads to the spacious enclosure at the foot of Wilson’s Arch. [one of the bridges leading to the Temple Mount], which has also been excavated by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Remains of the magnificent 2000 year old building recently excavated and to be opened to the public. (Credit: YANIV BERMAN / ISRAELI ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

According to experts, some wooden reclining sofas that were also believed to have been in the room did not survive. Eating lying down was common practice for elites and for lavish meals – as seen in the Passover Seder ritual, where all participants are invited to eat and drink in this manner at certain times to celebrate freedom.

On the eve of the destruction of the Temple, the building underwent significant changes.

“At the end of the Second Temple period, before the destruction of the Temple, significant changes made throughout the area included modifications to the building, which was divided into three separate chambers,” Weksler-Bdolach said. “In one of the bedrooms, a tiered swimming pool was installed and served as a ritual bath. “

The steps and the tub are still visible today. Pilgrims were to visit the Temple in a state of ritual purity, which required immersing themselves in a ritual bath.Remains of the magnificent 2000 year old building recently excavated and to be opened to the public. (Credit: YANIV BERMAN / ISRAELI ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

“It is exciting to reveal such a magnificent structure from the Second Temple period as we mourn the destruction of Jerusalem and pray for its restoration,” said Western Wall Heritage Foundation President Mordechai Soli Eliav, referring to the three weeks between Tamuz 17, when the fall of Jerusalem began, and Av 9, when the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, which this year will fall on July 18.

“These rooms are part of a new walk through the Western Wall Tunnels, where visitors will be able to see fascinating finds and walk for the first time along the entire route among the remains of the Second Temple period which illustrate the complexity of Jewish life in Jerusalem between the Hasmoneans and Roman periods, ”he said.

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