Ancient Roman theater unearthed in Jerusalem
Archaeologists are calling it a 'sensational find.'
What excavators believe to be Jerusalem's first-ever Roman theater was recently discovered underground near the city's Western Wall.
The discovery of the elegant masonry was a surprise to archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who originally began digging in the area to try to date Wilson's Arch, a stone structure they had previously found.
"We did not imagine that a window would open for us onto the mystery of Jerusalem’s lost theater," the excavators said in a statement, adding that the discovery will lead to some exciting conclusions about the uses and objectives of the theater.
It appears to have been able to seat 200 people. The portions of the theater had been hidden for about 1,700 years, archaeologists said. Previously, they had only written records of the theaters and theories about their location, but no actual evidence of them. Until now.
"From a research perspective, this is a sensational find," they said. "The discovery was a real surprise."
The other element of surprise in the finding, they said, was that it appears the theater was never actually used. An unfinished staircase was found on the site, indicating that the structure may have been abandoned before it could be used.
"This enables conclusions to be drawn at a level of precision that would have been impossible in the past, transforming the study of the findings at Wilson’s Arch into pioneering, cutting-edge micro-archaeological research," the archaeologists said.
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Related Topics: Archaeology