Bible and archaeology news
Two years after discovering the lower levels of a first-century C.E. mansion in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Mt. Zion archaeological team led by Shimon Gibson and James Tabor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte have continued to excavate the site, uncovering more of the mansion in the process. During this summer’s dig season, the team resumed their excavation of the finished bathroom found in 2013. The archaeologists also found another complete vaulted room.
“These remains are extraordinarily well-preserved, such that not only do we have the complete basements of houses with their rooms intact, but the first story of these houses are also very well-preserved,” Gibson told The Charlotte Observer. “This is truly amazing.”
Gibson explained that not many buildings from first-century Jerusalem have remained intact because of the Romans’ destruction of the city at the end of the First Jewish Revolt in 70 C.E. and Roman emperor Hadrian’s subsequent rebuilding atop the ruins 65 years later.
“Then, in the Byzantine period (330–1453 C.E.), the buildings were filled in so the area could be flattened in order to build houses and structures on the top,” Gibson added.
It is remarkable, then, that the mansion being excavated by the Mt. Zion dig team is so well preserved.
Excavation codirector James Tabor, Professor of Christian origins and ancient Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, told The Charlotte Observer that he hopes the Mt. Zion site, along with some of the other dig sites in Jerusalem, will be open for public tours in the future.
Estelle Reed is an intern at the Biblical Archaeology Society.
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