New (ancient) Developments at The Kotel Tunnels

October 14th 2010

On Tuesday of this week Shalom Israel Tours was invited, along with a host of tour operators and non-profits, to check out the latest developments and excavations at the Kotel Tunnels. This event was incredible, we climbed through tunnels still being dug which may take years to be ready for public viewing. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation (The Kotel) have discovered that the “cardo” the public street systems from 2000 years ago extends fully under the entire Kotel Plaza.

They are now excavating carefully inch by inch to create a second plaza, the original plaza from the times of the second temple, 12 meters underground. It will be fully open to the public to use, pray, congregate; just as it was for the Jewish population in the times of Herrod the Great.

The structures underground are mind-boggling.

At one point we stood above the original street roughly 1800 years old, and we could clearly see a huge stone which had a backgammon (sheshbesh) board carved into it. As this street was a main commerce center, it can be assumed that bored shopkeepers from 1800 years ago scraped out a game board to play and kill time between customers coming into their shops.

Additionally they’ve discovered a series of structures and stamps (the metal kind used to seal an envelope with wax) which date to the first temple period. This incredible find helps archeologists and historians understand that the Jerusalem of King David and King Solomon was significantly larger than previously thought. They didn’t find just a wall or a few stamps, they found huge structures which even to my untrained eye, was clearly a massive palace or important structure. The stamps bear the names of famous personalities from the bible; an incredible find.

We look forward to moe incredible discoveries at The Kotel and we wish the Western Wall Heritage Foundation continued success and growth in their efforts to share the heritage and culture of the Jewish People with the world.