Western Wall Tunnel Location Diagram)


Legend:
1. New entrance to tunnel;
2. Moslem Quarter;
3. Via Dolorosa;
4. Lions' Gate;
5. Temple Mount;
6. Christian Quarter;
7. Church of the Holy Sepulchre;
8. Path of the tunnel;
9. Jewish Quarter;
10. Western Wall Plaza;
11. Western Wall

The entire western wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been completely revealed for the first time since 70 C.E. Excavations have uncovered all 490 metres of the wall that once formed the western girder of ancient Jerusalem's great Temple and the entire stonework that formed the basis of the original Temple mount in now exposed. An ancient Hasmonean water tunnel, built about 120 B.C.E. and later blocked by Herod's builders in also visible for the first time and is one of the rare Hasmonean finds uncovered to date in Jerusalem. One of the most unexpected archaeological finds disclosed by the excavation is that Herod did not complete the entire construction of the Temple mount as historians and archaeologists believed to this day. A change in the type of masonry used at the northern end of the western wall is evidence that Herod built all but the last stages of construction of the Temple mount. Instead of the polished stones with characteristic Herodian masonry marks, part of the original stonework is roughly hewn. One of the mysteries uncovered during the excavation is the presence of massive stones that measure some 14 metres in length, 3 metres in height, and are estimated to be 2 metres thick and to weigh over 300 tons. No one can explain how these gigantic rocks were transported to the site. Walking along the tunnel, you can see the rock escarpment of the long lost Antonia fortress at the northern end of the western wall built by the Maccabees. This imposing building complex existed for only a few decades before it was demolished by he Romans followinn the fall of the Temple. The Tunnel is wide enough for one person to pass at a time, leading to a one-way route exiting at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa. [Archaeology] [Images of selected sites in Jerusalem]

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