Israeli archaeologists hail discovery of new Second Temple-era buildings

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Israeli archaeologists hail discovery of new Second Temple-era buildings

Spacious chamber will allow visitors to experience the streets of Jerusalem as they appeared during ancient times

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

A spacious chamber with a vaulted ceiling deep below the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City is set to open to the public this summer after excavation work was completed.

Archaeologists say the structure, dating from around 20-30 CE, appears to have been on a street leading up to the Temple Mount.

The building would have been used for public functions and may even have been the place dignitaries were received by the city council.

Two reception rooms, ornately designed and paved with enormous stone slabs, were connected by a fountain that gushed water out of the top Corinthian columns.

It will be opened to the public as part of another walking route within the Western Wall Tunnels beneath the Old City.

Israeli archaeologists have been working for decades to excavate Hasmonean and Roman-era structures that were buried under rubble and rubbish in the centuries since.

Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, the excavation director at the Israel Antiquities Authorities, said it was “without doubt one of the most magnificent public building from the Second Temple period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem.”

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said visitors would soon be allowed to roam through the discovery.

Its chairman Mordechai Soli Eliav said: “These chambers are part of a new walk through the Western Wall Tunnels, where visitors will view fascinating finds and walk for the first time along the entire route among Second Temple-period remains that illustrate the complexity of Jewish life in Jerusalem between the Hasmonean and the Roman periods.”

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