Jerusalem archaeologists have unearthed an access road leading from the Kidron Valley and Shiloah Pool to the Temple Mount, as well as a drainage channel leading away from the Old City.
They say the excavated sites shed light on the events surrounding the destruction of the holy city on Tisha B’av in the year 70 CE.
The findings, which were part of the City of David excavations adjacent to Dung Gate, are located to the south of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount. The Herodian-era walkway likely served religious pilgrims visiting the Temple, as well as locals from the surrounding area who needed to make the steep climb from the Kidron Valley in order to enter the Old City, which served as the city’s center of commerce and cultural life at the time.
However, when the Roman siege of the city began, the infrastructure was used by Jews looking to hide from the advancing forces, and later to escape the flames of the burning city.
“Before the revolution against the Romans the tunnel was used for rainwater,” said archaeological Eli Shukron. “But when the revolution started people were hiding inside these tunnels – families heard the sandals of Roman soldiers (overhead), smelling the fire of Jerusalem, hearing the falling stones from the Temple Mount.”
Shukron said that sifting through dirt removed from the excavation has unearthed arrowheads, ancient coins, pottery and mosaic shards from the Second Temple Era and earlier.