The Destruction of Jerusalem at A.D. 70: Recent Discoveries from the City of David

In March 2007 excavations began in the area located on the northwestern side of the City of David spur, along the eastern fringes of the “Tyropoeon Valley” – the Valley of the Cheese mongers according to Josephus" description [War of the Jews 5.4.1]). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Elad Association, is directed by Dr. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets. In the course of excavations, a complex of walls and installations that dates to the time of the Second Temple was discovered. The more the remains of this early phase were revealed the more we realized they constitute part of an extraordinary architectural complex that extends across a large part of the excavation area. It includes a large impressive edifice of which only its northeastern corner has been revealed to date. Adjacent to the northern side of the building were a number of plastered water installations, some of which are ritual baths (miqve"ot). These water installations were part of a designated wing of the building that was used for purification purposes inside the architectural complex. The entire building became the object of intentional demolition that brought about its end. Both the pottery vessels and the coins indicate that the building was demolished in the year 70 CE – with the destruction of Jerusalem at the end of the Second Temple period. The exposure of the remains of this edifice of striking proportions and characteristics from the end of the Second Temple period raises questions regarding its function and identification. These questions and others are the focus of this lecture.