Israeli archaeologists recently dug up an ancient subterranean structure, parts of which date back to Roman times, just meters from the Temple Mount, Channel 10 reported Sunday.
“It’s one of the [most] impressive, beautiful and grand places found recently in Jerusalem,” Israel Antiquities Authority Jerusalem Region Archaeologist Yuval Baruch told the station.
“It is one of the most significant remains” found in Jerusalem in the last generation,” he said.
The ongoing excavations, which are taking place beneath the Western Wall plaza in the former Mughrabi Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, feature a Mamluk-era caravansary dating to the Middle Ages and remains of lavish public buildings from the Herodian period, over 2,000 years ago, some 20 meters (65 feet) from the Temple Mount.
Baruch explained that when digging began, the earthen fill reached the ceiling of the now-restored caravansary, and that archaeologists had no idea how large the structure was.
“We understood that there was something else here, in terms of size, in terms of grandeur,” he said.
The IAA has conducted the “most extensive preservation work ever done in Jerusalem” to restore the Mamluk building ahead of its intended opening to the public.
The report gave no indication of when the Antiquities Authority aimed to open the site.
It emphasized that the excavations did not extend beneath the Temple Mount, for both religious and political reasons.