After 1,700 years, dramatic discovery changes archaeologists’ entire understanding of Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Ancient Roman theater uncovered next to Western Wall

By —— Bio and Archives--October 18, 2017

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Jewish historian Josephus Flavius told of a small Roman-era theater built in the vicinity of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. But no one had seen it for nearly two millennia. Archaeologists beginning with Charles William Wilson have been searching for that theater for 150 years to no avail.

As happens so often in archaeology, the theater’s discovery was by accident. Diggers were excavating a known Second Temple road under Wilson’s Arch (named for the British archaeologist) when they ran into flat stones placed unusually in a circle. It wasn’t an ancient traffic circle but a Roman theater which, when it was finally uncovered, changed archaeologists’ entire understanding of Jerusalem after the destruction of the Second Temple.

“We saw there was leisure, entertainment under Wilson’s Arch,” explained archaeologist Tehilla Lieberman, who described the discovery as “unbelievable” and “a real drama.”

Because the theater is located under a roofed space, the archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority note that the theater was probably an odeon for acoustic performances. (Or it may have been a “bouleuterion,” a building where the city council met.)

That said, the theater was probably never used. The stairs are not fully hewn and there are rocks that have guide marks but weren’t fully carved, explained archaeologist Joe Uziel during a press conference earlier this week—More…

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