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Intriguing ancient Jewish structure unearthed near Western Wall
by Helen Mitchell | June 15, 2020 | Israel, Judea and Samaria
When Israeli archaeologists uncovered a series of ancient chambers that had been hidden underground for thousands of years just meters away from the Second Temple, everyone was overcome with mystery and intrigue.

The Israel Antiques Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation presented the extraordinary discovery last month, just ahead of Jerusalem Day.

Barely thirty meters from the ancient Jewish Temple, archaeologists found two rooms connected by a staircase and an open courtyard. This complex was used by Jewish people in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago at the time of the Second Temple.

Artefacts found at the site - oil lamps, clay cooking vessels and stone containers - show that the rooms were used for storing and cooking food. But more than that, nobody knows.

In first century Jerusalem, houses were normally built of stone. So, who was it that dug out these underground chambers, and why did they go to such efforts to hew rooms out of the hard bedrock?

During the Byzantine period, around 1,400 years ago, the ancient rooms were sealed up beneath the floor of a large, grand building. What was this building, and why were the first century Jewish chambers buried underneath it?

This discovery captures the imagination in a unique way and opens up a treasure trove of mystery. Yet a few questions hang in the air that are maybe more profound than all the others:

Why did this ancient Jewish structure survive for thousands of years when almost no others did? How did it stay hidden so long? And why, only now, in these days, has it come to light?

When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE, they burnt the city to the ground and left virtually no Jewish structures standing. But these hidden rooms survived.

When the grand Byzantine building that covered the chambers collapsed in an earthquake in the 11th century, the ancient Jewish rooms beneath its mosaic floors remained intact.

After thousands of years, it's only now in our day that this mysterious structure has come to light.

You may be forgiven for thinking that these events didn't happen by chance. Could it be that the G-d of Israel is still watching over the city where His Presence dwells? Could it be that He chooses when to reveal Jerusalem's hidden treasures?

Today the very identity of Jerusalem is under attack. Many are trying to rewrite her history and erase all evidence of an ancient Jewish presence in the city.

Could it be that discoveries like these ancient Jewish rooms are intended to show us that the Jews did and always will belong in their holy city of Jerusalem?

Click here to learn more fascinating facts about Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.