Israel Antiquities Authority completes excavations; site may open to public in August.
By World Israel News Staff
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) lifted the curtain on a stunning section of the most impressive Second Temple era building found in Jerusalem.
“This is without doubt one of the most magnificent public buildings from the Second Temple period that has ever been uncovered outside the Temple Mount walls in Jerusalem,” Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, the IAA’s excavation director, stated in a press release on Thursday.
“It was built in around 20–30 CE. The building, which apparently stood along a street leading up to the Temple Mount, was used for public functions – it may even have been the city council building where important dignitaries were received before entering the Temple compound and the Temple Mount,” she said.
The walls and fountain were decorated with a sculpted cornice bearing pilasters (flat supporting pillars) topped with Corinthian capitals. The decorative style of the building is typical of opulent Second Temple-period architecture, the IAA said. The largest room also featured an ornate water fountain.
The structure will soon be opened to the public soon as part of a revamped Western Wall Tunnels tour that will include new paths not yet experienced by the public.
According to Mordechai Soli Eliav, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, the new section of the Tunnels Tour will hopefully be open in time for the Hebrew month of Elul, which this year begins in early August. Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays, attracts a surge of worshippers to the Western Wall saying penitential prayers known as selichot.