Remains of wall breached during Roman conquest of Jerusalem found
Impressive and fascinating evidence of the battlefield and the breaching of the Third Wall that surrounded Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period was exposed in recent months in the Russian Compound in the city center.
|The excavation site in the Russian Compound. One can see the sling stones on the floor, which are tangible |
evidence of the battle that was waged here 2,000 years ago [Credit: Yoli Shwartz, IAA]
During the course of the excavation archaeologists discovered the remains of a tower jutting from the city wall. Opposite the tower’s western facade were scores of ballista and sling stones that the Romans had fired from catapults towards the Jewish guards defending the wall, who were stationed at the top of the tower.
|Over 70 ballista and sling stones were discovered in front of the wall |
[Credit: Yoli Shwartz, IAA]
The historian Josephus, an eye witness to the war, provided many details about this wall. According to him, the wall was designed to protect the new quarter of the city that had developed outside its boundaries, north of the two existing city walls. This quarter was named Beit Zeita.
|Above: A spearhead from the battle against Titus’ army [Credit: Clara Amit, IAA]; Below: A 2,000 year old jar|
as it was discovered in the field [Credit: Yoli Shwartz, IAA]
Josephus described in detail the route of the wall that began at Hippicus Tower, which is now identified with David’s Citadel. From there the wall continued north to the enormous Psephinus Tower, which defended the northwestern corner of the city wall. At that point the wall turned east and descended toward the Tomb of Queen Helena, which is identified with the place known as the Tombs of the Kings.
An unresolved debate among researchers has been going from the early twentieth century up until the current excavation as to the identity of the Third Wall and the question concerning Jerusalem’s boundaries on the eve of the Roman onslaught led by Titus. It seems that the new discovery in the Russian Compound is proof of the wall’s existence in this area.
The excavation findings will be presented in a conference entitled "“New Studies in the archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region” conference ", to be held on Thursday, October 27, 2016, at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Source: The Israel Antiquities Authority [October 20, 2016]