Large-scale excavations conducted in the Old City for the past two years have revealed massive portions of the Kosel unseen for 1,700 years, as well as an ancient Roman theater, the Israel Antiquity Authority (IAA) announced on Monday.
The discoveries were disclosed during a press conference held beneath Wilson’s Arch in the Kosel Tunnels, with the participation of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Kosel, IAA Director-General Israel Hasson and others.
“Time after time the amazing archaeological findings allow our generation to actually touch the ancient history of our people and Jewish heritage and its deep connection to Jerusalem,” said Rabinowitz.
The eight stone courses of the Kosel unveiled on Monday had been hidden beneath 26 feet of earth and were perfectly preserved after being excavated. The Roman theater contains approximately 200 seats and, according to archaeologists, required a “great deal” of investment in its construction.
The discoveries are being presented to the public for the first time during this week’s “New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Environs” conference held in Yerushalayim, marking 50 years of archaeological research in Israel’s capital since its reunification.
According to Hasson, the IAA is working to advance a recently approved national project “to unveil ancient Jerusalem.”
The findings from the excavations beneath Wilson’s Arch “enhance the importance of expanding the archaeological excavations in this region,” said Hasson.