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].

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Times of Israel

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


No, Israel Hasn’t Used Disproportionate Force against Hamas

Aug. 15 2018

Last week, Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza launched nearly 200 rockets and mortars into Israel, in addition to the ongoing makeshift incendiary devices and sporadic sniper fire. Israel responded with an intensive round of airstrikes, which stopped the rockets. Typically, condemnations of the Jewish state’s use of “disproportionate force” followed; and typically, as Peter Lerner, a former IDF spokesman, explains, these were wholly inaccurate:

The IDF conducted, by its own admission, approximately 180 precision strikes. In the aftermath of those strikes the Hamas Ministry of Health announced that three people had been killed. One of the dead was [identified] as a Hamas terrorist. The two others were reported as civilians: Inas Abu Khmash, a twenty-three-year-old pregnant woman, and her eighteen-month daughter, Bayan. While their deaths are tragic, they are not an indication of a disproportionate response to Hamas’s bombardment of Israel’s southern communities. With . . . 28 Israelis who required medical assistance [and] 30 Iron Dome interceptions, I would argue the heart-rending Palestinian deaths indicate the exact opposite.

The precision strikes on Hamas’s assets with so few deaths show how deep and thorough is the planning process the IDF has put in place. . . . Proportionality in warfare, [however], is not a numbers game, as so many of the journalists I’ve worked with maintain. . . . Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against the anguish that the action might cause to civilians in the vicinity. . . . In the case of the last few days, it appears that even intended combatant deaths were [deemed] undesirable, due to their potential to increase the chances of war. . . .

The question that should be repeated is why indiscriminate rocket fire against Israeli civilians from behind Gazan civilians is accepted, underreported, and not condemned.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict