While Jerusalem today is a bustling, modern capital city, archaeologists are discovering artifacts that reflect millennia of Jewish life there and have recently unearthed several important finds. Rabbi Barnea Selevan, Old City expert, tells of several small stone buildings, possibly from First Temple times, uncovered near the Western Wall Plaza. Temple seals were found in the vicinity as well.
It has been suggested that these buildings were abandoned, but not destroyed, during the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. This and other discoveries have expanded our understanding of Roman presence in the city after that time.
The Romans established the Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of Jerusalem, but a lack of archaeological evidence of their presence in the Old City led to the conclusion that its scope was quite small. Recent finds have begun to change that impression. Selevan recounts the discovery of a Roman bath house, two storeys beneath Haomer Street in the Old City, explaining that understanding Aelia Capitolina will tell us what shaped Jerusalem as we know it today.
Another location that has attracted much archaeological attention is the area surrounding the City of David. A drainage tunnel under a Herodian-era street there was used by Jews hiding from the Romans, according to Aharon Horowitz, director of Megalim, the Institute of Jerusalem Studies of the City of David. University of Haifa archaeologist Ronny Reich points out the smashed paving stones that indicate the Romans broke through the road to drag out those Jews trying to use the tunnel to escape. In the nearby Givati Parking Lot site, the ruins of a 1st-century palace and a 3rd century Roman mansion have been found.
According to algemeiner.com, the Old City walls have also been the centre of excavation and restoration activity in the past six years, the first time in nearly a century that such an effort has been undertaken. According to Shuka Dorfman, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “These impressive walls attest to the building and destruction of seven different regimes, and include remnants from the First Temple Period.” These remnants include a small clay object, possibly a seal, with the inscription “Pure for God,” an item which will provide insight into the workings of the Temple.