As archeologists have worked to expand the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem for the past 15 years, they’ve discovered what could be the site of one of the most important events in the New Testament.
The Washington Post reported that archeologists unearthed the remains of a palace, which may have contained the prison where Jesus Christ was tried by Pontius Pilate.
After wars and underfunding halted the archeological dig, the museum is now giving tours of the site. The historical prison was found not under the museum itself, but beneath an adjacent abandoned building.
Amit Re’em, the Jerusalem district archaeologist, headed the excavation team more than a decade ago. He told the Washington Post that the find was exciting because of what it revealed about the past, beyond the possibility of Jesus’ trial occurring there. “[The prison] is a great part of the ancient puzzle of Jerusalem and shows the history of this city in a very unique and clear way,” he said.
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The building has proved to be something of a time capsule for Re’em. The excavation has revealed symbols etched into old jail walls by Jewish prisoners fighting to create the state of Israel, fabric-dyeing basins that date back to the Crusades, and foundation walls and a sewage system that probably underpinned the palace built by Herod the Great, the king of Judea during the Roman empire.
“For those Christians who care about accuracy in regards to historical facts, this is very forceful,” Yisca Harani, an expert on Christianity and pilgrimage to the Holy Land, told the Washington Post. “For others, however, those who come for the general mental exercise of being in Jerusalem, they don’t care as long as [their journey] ends in Golgotha — the site of the Crucifixion.”
The museum will continue to expand and develop over the coming years.