Archaeologists Uncovered a Buried Part of the Western Wall to Find an Ancient Roman Theater

Oct. 17 2017

Excavating a portion of the Western Wall that has been sunken into the earth for nearly 1,700 years, Israeli researchers have found a theater-like structure they believe to have been built by the Romans around 130 CE. Their findings shed light on a period in Jerusalem’s history—after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE—about which little is known. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The small 200- to 300-seat theater, whose existence was noted by [the historian] Flavius Josephus and other ancient sources but which has eluded Jerusalem excavations for some 150 years, is the first rediscovered example of a Roman public building in Jerusalem, archaeologists said.

In 70 CE, the Second Temple was razed along with most of the Jewish settlement of Jerusalem. In its place, the Roman colony Aelia Capitolina was established and named after the Roman god Jupiter and the emperor Hadrian (also known as Aelius), who began reconstructing the city in 130 CE. Following the bloody Bar Kokhba revolt of circa 132–136 CE, Jews were banned from the capital aside from on Tisha b’Av, a day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the Temple. . . .

The team expects to continue excavations until next spring. Joe Uziel, [one of the archaeologists leading the team], said while he cannot know [for certain], he expects to reach First Temple-period remains. . . .

[I]t appears that the theater was not fully finished. The stairs are not fully hewn and there are rocks that have guide marks but weren’t fully carved. [Uziel] speculated that perhaps the Bar Kokhba revolt interrupted its construction. . . . The theater and other finds from previous excavations give “a hint” into the importance of the Temple Mount following the fall of the Second Temple, said [another archaeologist].

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Ancient Rome, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Western Wall


Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations