BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Enormous Crusader-Era Hospital Discovered in Jerusalem

Excavations uncovered a Crusader-period hospital in the Old City of Jerusalem. The enormous structure, which is characterized by massive pillars and ribbed vaults, treated patients of multiple faiths. Photo courtesy Yoli Shwartz, the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered part of a massive hospital dating to the Crusader period (1099-1291 C.E.). The structure lies in the heart of the Christian Quarter in the Old City in an area known as “Muristan” (based on the Persian word for hospital). Although only a portion of the building has been excavated, archaeologists estimate that the hospital covers 160,000 square feet. The 20-foot-high ceilings were supported by massive pillars and ribbed vaults.

IAA excavation directors Renee Forestany and Amit Re’em initially discovered the hospital in contemporaneous documents. The hospital was built by a Christian military order called the Knights Hospitaller, also known as the Knights of Saint John, after John the Baptist. The hospital had different wings and departments organized according to patients’ illnesses and conditions and could serve up to 2,000 patients. Patients of different religions were treated. The building also functioned as an orphanage for abandoned newborns. The Muslim Arab population was instrumental in helping the Crusaders establish the hospital and teaching them medicine.

The hospital likely collapsed during an earthquake in 1457, but parts of the building were reused as stables as well as stalls for a fruit and vegetables market through the Ottoman period. The market continued to operate until 2000, when the IAA started the excavations.

Read the Bible History Daily feature What Were the Crusades and How Did They Impact Jerusalem? and the BHD excavation news Fatimid Treasure Discovered at Crusader-Era Apollonia-Arsuf.


BAS Library Members: Read more about the Crusaders in the Levant:

Jack Meinhardt, “When Crusader Kings Ruled Jerusalem,” Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2000.

Ronnie Ellenblum, “Guarding the Holy Land,” Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2005.

Adrian Boas, “The Rugged Beauty of Crusader Castles,” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2006.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Join the BAS Library today.

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9 Responses

  1. Kevin J Kehoe says:

    The Knights Hospitaller was a medieval Catholic military order founded in 1113 CE with the full name of ‘Knights of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem’. After their base was relocated to Rhodes in the early 14th century CE, the order’s members were often called the Knights of Rhodes and when they moved again in 1530 CE, this time to Malta, they were subsequently known as the Knights of Malta. The original purpose of the order was to provide aid and medical care to Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, but it soon became a military order which acquired extensive territories in Europe and whose knights made significant contributions to the Crusades in Iberia and the Middle East. The Knights Hospitaller, identified by their distinctive white eight-pointed cross on a black background, participated in many other campaigns besides, notably those involving the Byzantine Empire. The order still exists today

    I would appreciate a correction on this point It was and Is a Catholic Order

  2. I much appreciate how archaeology digs up history; history that is so often conveniently forgotten. World news about the Middle East and beyond still characterises conflict there in terms of Islamic State against Christian West. Horrific decapitations, dismemberment, floggings etc. are rightfully presented as barbaric actions of infidel yesteryear.
    Bombs, missiles and rockets are presumed to be the humane way to do things.
    The barbarism of the the Christian Crusaders is never considered. Popes in Rome organised them. They lasted for 200 years. They are presented as the Victory of Christianity over Islam. They consolidated the divide which we all have inherited.
    This is far cry from Yeshua’s instruction to ” Love your enemies and, do good to those who……”. The prophets were up against “deaf ears” When will we ever learn?
    Brian Pitts

    1. Kevin J Kehoe says:

      Man is a frail creature, but the Crusades were in response to Islam’s cruelty and debauchery, once started it’s tough to stop, but Even the shores of Tripoli and the influx o Evil showed Christian cruelty was necessary, as it still is, it never will, until a real King returns.

  3. Video Blog says:

    Era Of The Crusades…

    […] ation was instrumental in helping the Crusaders establish the hospital and teach […]…

  4. Enormous Crusader Hospital discovered in Jerusalem |Secret Done says:

    […] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily…jerusalem/ one […]

  5. Rob Palmer says:

    Has anyone written a bio of Baldwin the II? He’s really the man for all seasons.

  6. David Paul says:

    OK, I see it says they “uncovered part” of the hospital. Still, “identified” seems to be a more appropriate word.

  7. David Paul says:

    In what way was the hospital “uncovered” if it was used as a fruit & vegetable market until 2000?

  8. Tim Upham says:

    Was King Baldwin IV treated there for leprosy?

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


9 Responses

  1. Kevin J Kehoe says:

    The Knights Hospitaller was a medieval Catholic military order founded in 1113 CE with the full name of ‘Knights of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem’. After their base was relocated to Rhodes in the early 14th century CE, the order’s members were often called the Knights of Rhodes and when they moved again in 1530 CE, this time to Malta, they were subsequently known as the Knights of Malta. The original purpose of the order was to provide aid and medical care to Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, but it soon became a military order which acquired extensive territories in Europe and whose knights made significant contributions to the Crusades in Iberia and the Middle East. The Knights Hospitaller, identified by their distinctive white eight-pointed cross on a black background, participated in many other campaigns besides, notably those involving the Byzantine Empire. The order still exists today

    I would appreciate a correction on this point It was and Is a Catholic Order

  2. I much appreciate how archaeology digs up history; history that is so often conveniently forgotten. World news about the Middle East and beyond still characterises conflict there in terms of Islamic State against Christian West. Horrific decapitations, dismemberment, floggings etc. are rightfully presented as barbaric actions of infidel yesteryear.
    Bombs, missiles and rockets are presumed to be the humane way to do things.
    The barbarism of the the Christian Crusaders is never considered. Popes in Rome organised them. They lasted for 200 years. They are presented as the Victory of Christianity over Islam. They consolidated the divide which we all have inherited.
    This is far cry from Yeshua’s instruction to ” Love your enemies and, do good to those who……”. The prophets were up against “deaf ears” When will we ever learn?
    Brian Pitts

    1. Kevin J Kehoe says:

      Man is a frail creature, but the Crusades were in response to Islam’s cruelty and debauchery, once started it’s tough to stop, but Even the shores of Tripoli and the influx o Evil showed Christian cruelty was necessary, as it still is, it never will, until a real King returns.

  3. Video Blog says:

    Era Of The Crusades…

    […] ation was instrumental in helping the Crusaders establish the hospital and teach […]…

  4. Enormous Crusader Hospital discovered in Jerusalem |Secret Done says:

    […] http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily…jerusalem/ one […]

  5. Rob Palmer says:

    Has anyone written a bio of Baldwin the II? He’s really the man for all seasons.

  6. David Paul says:

    OK, I see it says they “uncovered part” of the hospital. Still, “identified” seems to be a more appropriate word.

  7. David Paul says:

    In what way was the hospital “uncovered” if it was used as a fruit & vegetable market until 2000?

  8. Tim Upham says:

    Was King Baldwin IV treated there for leprosy?

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