TechUnearthed ancient trench in Jerusalem sparks debate on city's defensive history

Unearthed ancient trench in Jerusalem sparks debate on city's defensive history

Piece of phosphorus under Jerusalem
Piece of phosphorus under Jerusalem
Images source: © Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

1:28 PM EST, January 14, 2024

The researchers are uncertain about the exact era in which the trench was constructed. The current evidence attests that it was roughly 98 feet wide during biblical times and extended down 20 feet. As the study results illustrate in the "Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University," the trench might have partitioned part of Jerusalem from notable holy sites, for instance, Temple Mount.

The discovery is noteworthy for its antiquity. Based on the research conducted, the structure could have been constructed in the 9th century B.C., during the Iron Age.

"In biblical times, the trench could have bifurcated Jerusalem into two sections. One part contains the temple and palace, and the older city is residing in the south." This clarifies Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University, who took part in the discovery. The archaeologist posits this to be a structure "singular in its type," and the design and establishment of this "large and monumental object could only have been achieved by the ruling kings of the city."

Through dating techniques, experts have concluded that the trench might have been ordered by one of the initial kings of Judea mentioned in the Old Testament. "The execution of such a trench demonstrates their power and ability to carry out monumental projects that would permanently alter and mold the city's natural topography for centuries," Gadot states. Nonetheless, the discovery from last year leaves numerous undisclosed aspects and uncountable questions unanswered.

Scientists are contemplating how Jerusalem was defensively structured from the north and how the Temple Mount was blended into the city. The recent discovery offers a clearer perception of the ancient city borders and grants insights into how defensive mechanisms functioned thousands of years ago.

"Thanks to additional excavations, we now understand that the trench granted those who constructed the palace and temple atop Temple Mount a means to regulate access to the newly formed acropolis, thus creating a physical division," explains Gadot. Multiple investigations have certified that the trench remained in operation at least until the Hellenistic era (332-63 BC), after which it was filled as a result of construction work in Jerusalem. Archaeologists have announced that they will continue their research on the unearthed trench to further comprehend the workings of Jerusalem during biblical times.

  • The ditch under Jerusalem
  • The ditch under Jerusalem
  • Trench under Jerusalem
[1/3] The ditch under JerusalemImages source: © Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University
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