The Old Jerusalem Elevator Project Leads to Amazing Discoveries


Jerusalem (AP) — Installing an elevator usually does not involve a 2,000-year rush into the history of an ancient city. But in Jerusalem, even seemingly simple construction projects can lead to archaeological efforts.

Archaeologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem say they made many discoveries, including a glamorous first-century villa with its own ceremonial bath, after the project began to increase access for people with disabilities to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. increase.

The villa, which traced its footsteps from where the Bible’s Jewish temple stood, was discovered during several years of rescue excavations in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s historic old town. Archaeologists conduct archaeological excavations to study them scientifically before removing ancient relics and buildings and giving way to modern construction.

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is the most sacred place for Jews to pray and is visited by millions of worshipers and tourists each year. However, to reach this location from the adjacent Jewish quarter, visitors usually have to go down 142 steps or bypass the ramparts to one of the nearby gates.

In 2017, the Jewish District Reconstruction and Development Company received a green light to begin construction of two elevators to make it easier for visitors to descend 26 meters (85 feet). The location was a narrow sliver on an almost undeveloped slope, adjacent to an existing staircase at the eastern end of the Jewish quarter.

“The Wailing Wall is not a privilege, it’s basic for Jews or anyone around the world who wants to come to this holy place,” said Herzl Ben Ari, CEO of the Development Group. “We must make it possible for everyone.”

But like modern development projects in other ancient cities such as Istanbul, RomeAthens ThessalonikiArchaeological discoveries have slowed the progression to the crawl.

Archaeologist Michal Harbor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said:

Five years after the start of the business, archaeological work is nearing completion, but the elevator will be online in 2025.

During their excavation, archaeologists carefully stripped a continuous layer of construction and debris that had accumulated over 2,000 years, totaling more than 9 meters (30 feet). Historical waypoints included an Ottoman pipe built into a 2,000-year-old aqueduct that supplies Jerusalem with water from a fountain near Bethlehem. Early Islamic oil lamps; bricks engraved with the names of the Roman Legion, the 10th Army, which was besieged, destroyed, and then encamped in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. And the remains of a Jewish villa from the last day before the ancient Jewish temple was destroyed in 1970.

Archaeologist Oren Gutfeld said he was surprised to discover traces of the reconstruction of Jerusalem as the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina in the second century.

Frescoes from the villa and intricate mosaic fragments showed the wealth of the inhabitants of the house. However, upon reaching the bedrock, the Gutfeld and Haber team made the final discovery. It is a Jewish ritual bath cut into a limestone hillside and arched with hugely dressed stones.

Harbor said that the most important thing about the bath, known as Mikveh, is the location overlooking the temple promenade.

“We are in a wealthy district of the city on the eve of the destruction,” she said.

Elevator projects are less controversial, but development and archaeological excavations in Jerusalem are often undertaken by the city, which is sacred to the three beliefs. Political aspect.. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state, and Israel sees the entire city and its eternal undivided capital.

In the 1967 war, Israel occupied East Jerusalem, including the Old Town and the sanctuaries of Jews, Christians, and Islam. It then annexed East Jerusalem in a move that was not recognized by most of the international community.