SURPRISE–Western Wall Excavations Beginning Soon!

[This post is from an archive; the original message was sent Mon 12/13/2004 4:53 PM.]

Exciting news as I would expect LMLK handles to be found here like they have been at all other excavations around the Temple Mount! Details courtesy of Arutz Sheva via the Israel National News:
www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=73529

Jerusalem city engineers will take down the hill jutting out from the Western Wall, replacing it with a bridge. Archaeologists expect to find treasures, such as a tall gate from the Second Temple.

The Jerusalem Municipality has decided to take down the hill that leads up from the Western Wall (Kotel) entrance to the Temple Mount, for fear that it might otherwise collapse. The walkway up the hill leads to the Mughrabim Gate, which is currently the only entrance for Jews to the Temple Mount. The city plans to replace the hill with a bridge that will lead into the Mughrabim Gate.

The plans are a bonanza for students of Jerusalem history, as the removal of the hill will uncover an eight-meter high gate leading into the Temple Mount. The gate, dating from the period of the Second Temple, is known as Barclay’s Gate, after the 19th-century American consul who first identified it.

In addition, archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar told Arutz-7 today, “it’s not every day that we get to excavate so close to the Western Wall. We expect to find, as we did in other excavations nearby, the Roman street alongside the Temple Mount structure, and many other treasures.” She said that Barclay’s Gate descends several meters below the current street level of the Western Wall plaza. “Today, only the top of its lintel can be seen [from the women’s section]. It is very beautiful, and when it is uncovered it will be one of the most beautiful scenes in the Old City.”

The hill in question, located to the right of the women’s section when facing the Wall, is an ancient one, comprising several layers of old buildings. Dr. Mazar said that some of them may be as old as the Mamluke Period, some 700 years ago, but under them are remnants from the Second Temple Period, 2,000 years ago. “I assume that they will study these structures, and document whatever needs to be learned, but in the end, the real find lies behind them. I assume, therefore, that the authorities will remove whatever now forms the hill, so that the full glory of the Wall and the Gate can be seen… It should be a matter of months.”

The entire area that is currently the Western Wall plaza was filled with low buildings when Israel liberated the area during the Six Day War of June 1967, and was later cleared away – except for the area on which lies the walkway-hill leading to the Mughrabim Gate.

City engineers fear that the collapse of the hill that began last winter could continue this year, leading to a total collapse. Part of the women’s section of the Western Wall plaza is already closed off for fear that worshipers below may be injured by falling rocks and earth, or by a major cave-in. The collapse began last year following a week of heavy rains, a snowstorm and an earthquake.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation launched a new website last night, providing historical information on the Western Wall and real-time photos thereof. The site’s English version is scheduled to be ready on January 20, 2005:
www.thekotel.org

G.M. Grena

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