When the Jewish Quarter, a pile of rubble after its destruction by the Jordanians in 1948, was rebuilt in the 1970’s a unique opportunity to conduct extensive archaeological excavations presented itself. Uncovering level after level of the history of Jerusalem, its builders and its destroyers, the archaeologists were unprepared for one particular level. Burnt ash, as much as one foot high in some places.

This was the level of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 CE. The Roman historian Josephus Flavius described how the Romans went from room to room setting everything alight. Jerusalem burnt for days.

In the Burnt House the charred masonry and wood covered the skeletal outstretched arm of a woman. To dispel any doubt of the date, a coin stamped “Year four of the redemption of Zion” was discovered in the ash.

The Herodian mansion is probably a terraced complex of houses. Each had a basement with a bath, a mikveh (ritual cleansing pool), rooms and a cistern. The ground floor was covered with decorative mosaic floors and many vessels, both stone and ceramic were found and are on display.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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