December 3, 1969
Hebrew University archaeologist Nahman Avigad announces the results of his excavation of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, an area Israel captured from Jordanian forces during the June 1967 war.
Avigad’s archaeological team worked for three months in an area stretching about 400 yards across the Old City. The expedition was supported by the Hebrew University Archaeological Institute, the government’s Antiquities Department and the Israel Exploration Society.
Avigad suggests at a news conference that the findings are significant enough to make it possible to reconstruct 900 years of settlement in the Jewish Quarter. The dig sheds light on nine stages of history of Jerusalem, from the Israelites to the Crusaders.
Among the finds are a 2,200-year-old engraving in a plastered wall depicting the Temple menorah that was taken back to Rome as loot after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.; the Burnt House, the remnants of a building destroyed during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans, providing support for the account of Flavius Josephus; lavish homes from the time of King Herod; a piece of the eighth century B.C.E. defensive wall built during the reign of King Hezekiah to defend Jerusalem and mentioned twice in the Book of Nehemiah; and the Israelite Tower, a fortification showing signs of the Babylonian sack of the city in 586 B.C.E. Byzantine-era finds include the remains of the Nea Church and a road running from that church to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The uncovered items include elaborately decorated stone fragments, pots, bits of wall plaster and more than 600 coins dating back to 80 B.C.E. Those items are displayed in Jerusalem museums and parks.