During an excavation of the area below an Ottoman prison in the Old City of Jerusalem, Archaeologist Amit Re’em found what he deems to be revolutionary.
One room in particular speaks for roughly 2,700 years of history. Layers of nearly every era of the city are laid bare on top of one another, from the time of the First Temple through the Roman, Crusader, and Ottoman periods - even up to Israel’s independence in 1948.
History is rarely so neat in the way it tells its tales. Everything was held so close together and so well-preserved. Re’em couldn’t help but be in wonder.
“The strength of the remains and the layering of them one on top of each other is like an open book, the whole historical and archaeological sequence of Jerusalem laid out in front of our eyes. We expected to find things, but the strength that we saw them in was beyond our expectations.”
What is perhaps most exciting is Re’em's belief that the site is where Jesus was tried by Pontius Pilate, citing that Pilate would have tried Jesus in a prominent location like Herod’s palace and that the original route of the Via Dolorosa that Jesus followed to his crucifixion passed the spot where the site now stands.
The excavation had been sanctioned so the site could be inspected before being transformed into an event space for the nearby Tower of David Museum. What was found there convinced the museum to stop its plans of building over it - they instead intend to make an exhibit of it.
It was opened to the public recently even though the site has been untouched since the dig ended in 2001, leaving the exhibit in the appearance of an ongoing dig site.
The Tower of David Museum’s Director Eilat Lieber hopes to place a glass floor above the remains and make use of 3-D imaging to give visitors insight into how the site may have looked in the past.
Here's a quick video of Re'em speaking to visitors as they look at the now famous site: