By July 23, 2008 Read More →

How the Wealthy Lived in Herodian Jerusalem, Nahman Avigad, Biblical Archaeology Review (2:4), Dec 1976.

Stepped Structure Unearthed in the City of David

Stepped Structure Unearthed in the City of David. By Davidbena – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Since it opened last spring at the Israel Museum, the exhibition of finds from the Jewish Quarter excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem has been drawing large and enthusiastic crowds.

And well it should. On display are the exciting results of six years of digging in an area only a few hundred yards from the great Temple Enclosure.

Collected by curator Yael Israeli, the objects in the exhibition date from the Herodian period,a when the area excavated comprised a fashionable and wealthy residential section overlooking the Holy Temple. The choice finds, on public display for the first time, are numerous and beautiful, varied in form, and rich in decoration. They afford a unique glimpse into the life of the rich and the powerful at a critical moment in history both for Jews and for Christians.

The author of this article, Professor Nachman Avigad of Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, has directed the excavations described in this article almost continuously since 1969—and they are still in progress. This article has been adapted from the exhibition catalog prepared by Professor Avigad.—Ed.

The area now known as the Jewish Quarter of the Old City lies on the “Western Hill” of Old Jerusalem, on which the “Upper City” stood in Second Temple times. This high broad hill is twin-peaked- The western rise is the higher of the two and is now mostly occupied by the Armenian Quarter; the northeastern knoll is presently covered by the Jewish Quarter. The Jewish Quarter overlooks the Temple Mount to the east from which the narrow “Eastern Hill” juts southward (today often called the “Ophel Hill”), the site of the earliest Jerusalem, the “City of David” (see map).

The City of David and the area adjacent to the Temple Mount have been the principal objects of archaeological expeditions since the beginnings of modern research in the city, over a century ago. Numerous excavations and investigations have been made there, and thus most of the knowledge of the material remains of ancient Jerusalem is generally related to this Eastern Hill and to the Temple Enclosure.

In recent years, our knowledge of this part of Jerusalem has increased considerably through large-scale archaeological excavations—in the 1960’s by the British expedition headed by Dame Kathleen M. Kenyon on the Eastern Hill and since 1968 by the expedition headed by Professor Benjamin Mazar adjacent to the Temple Enclosure. All these sites lie within the “Lower City” of Jerusalem, as it was known in the Second Temple days.

Read the rest of How the Wealthy Lived in Herodian Jerusalem in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

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