5 Amazing Archaeological Sites in Jerusalem
Because Jerusalem’s history spans more than 3,000 years, the city is brimming with compelling antiquities. Archaeologists have unearthed evidence speaking to the lives of the ancient Israelites and the many other peoples who lived here over the course of the millennia. Here are five Jerusalem archaeological sites that are not to be missed during your upcoming trip to Israel.
City of David
Biblical scholars have long debated the literal authenticity of the biblical stories relating to King David. Archaeologists working at the City of David are convinced they have uncovered the palace of the king, demonstrating that David was a mighty ruler and not a tribal leader, as others claim.
The City of David is indeed a vast excavation, and a path leads you via stairs and ramps over the impressive ruins. At the end of the tour, you will have the option to walk through a water channel called Hezekiah’s Tunnel, which was added at a later period to maintain the flow of fresh water from outside the city into the walled area. The tunnel is a special treat for children and the young at heart.
Jerusalem Archaeological Park
Located adjacent to the Western Wall, the Jerusalem Archaeological Park opens a window into the experiences of pilgrims who visited the Second Temple. You can see the remains of the ancient Roman street where the infamous moneychangers worked.
Robinson’s Arch, which juts out of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, once supported the stairway that extended from the street up to the Temple. Make a stop at Hulda Gate to see the large staircase that led into the city and connected to Robinson’s Arch. The park’s audio-visual presentation follows in the footsteps of a pilgrim who purchases an animal to sacrifice at the Holy Temple.
Western Wall Tunnels
Excavations of the unexposed portion of the Western Wall have revealed a water channel that supplied water to the Temple Mount. You can also see the largest stone in the wall, which is one of the heaviest items ever lifted by humans without the help of industrial machinery.
Guided tours take you through the tunnels from an entrance adjacent to the Western Wall to the exit on the Via Dolorosa.
The Burnt House
The Burnt House is an excavated Second Temple-era residence, located six meters below current street level in the Old City's Jewish Quarter.
The house has been turned into a museum with an audio-visual presentation telling the story of the Great Revolt and the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.
Temple Mount Sifting Project
At the Temple Mount Sifting Project, you can become an archaeologist yourself. The 1997 renovations of Solomon’s Stables resulted in the dumping of many truckloads of Temple Mount earth and stone in the Kidron Valley.
Israeli archeologists have enlisted the help of volunteers in sifting through the dirt in search of artifacts from the First and Second Temple periods. Visitors often find small but significant artifacts, such as coins and clay seals.
Underground in Jerusalem
The ancient city of Jerusalem is a treasure trove of ancient history, with many areas still under excavation and still more hidden from sight underneath contemporary buildings.
These archaeological sites represent the history of the city from the cradle of the Israelite kingdom, to the building of the Temple by King Solomon, the construction of a Second Temple and its renovation by King Herod the Great and the ultimate destruction of both the Temple and the city of Jerusalem during the revolt against Rome.