Recent excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have revealed, for the first time in 1,700 years, eight preserved stone courses under eight meters of soil at the Northeast corner of the Western Wall. According to the IAA, further inspection revealed covered remains of a 200 seat Roman theater, located below Wilson’s Arch. The arch is the last remaining from a succession, which provided a passage leading from the west to a level surface gate at the Temple Mount. It remains the only undamaged visible erection from the Temple Mount area from the Second Temple Period. Researchers claim the theater matches historical writings describing a theater within the Temple Mount vicinity, however further investigations suggest the theater was never completed and abandoned before use. Other findings in the vicinity include pottery, coins and sculptures, which will be analyzed for confirmation of date.
The diggings, which have been ongoing for the last two years, will continue for a further six month period, in a bid to uncover potential remains from the First Temple. Upon completion, the site will be opened to the public in connection with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s Western Wall Tunnel Tour.
Image courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority. Credit: Yaniv Berman