Ancient Theater in Jerusalem

Ancient theater Jerusalem

An ancient Roman theater is excavated in Jerusalem’s old city, October 16, 2017. CREDIT: Olivier Fitoussi

Archaeology in Jerusalem continues to impress us all. New things are being uncovered on a regular basis, adding more an more details to the context of the Bible.

Just recently, an ancient theater was found near the Western Wall. According to HaAretzthe original purpose of the excavation in this area was to date a particular archway that led into the Temple during the days of the 2nd Temple. For over hundred years, this archway has been labeled Wilson’s Arch, named after the early explorer who originally discovered it in the 19th century. However, in probing further down to expose further levels of the Herodian western wallthis theater was discovered.

The Archaeologists

Ancient theater Jerusalem

Israel’s Antiquities Authority’s Dr. Joe Uziel works in an ancient Roman theater in Jerusalem’s old city, October 16, 2017. CREDIT: Olivier Fitouss

From a research perspective, this is a sensational find. The discovery was a real surprise. When we started excavating, our goal was to date Wilson’s Arch. We did not imagine that a window would open for us onto the mystery of Jerusalem’s lost theater …The discovery of the theater-like structure is the real drama,” Dr. Joe Uziel, Tehillah Lieberman and Dr. Avi Solomon, the archeologists in charge of the excavations, said in a statement.

Unlike larger theaters found at places like Caesarea and Beth Shean, this theater was quite small. The archeologists suggest that this is a theater-like structure of the type known in the Roman world as an odeon. These smaller structures were primarily used for musical performances. According to the article, it was also stated that the structure may also have been a bouleuterion, a place where the city council met.

Remarkably, the archaeologists believe the theater was never used.

Questions

Wilson's Arch

Workers restore a ceiling of the Western Wall tunnels near the site where Israeli Antiquity Authority recently discovered an ancient roman theatre, Jerusalem, October 16, 2017. CREDIT: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

The questions we raise are two-fold: 1). What is the precise date of this theater? and 2). Why do the archaeologist believe that the theater was not used?

Yet a third question that arises is one that connects us to the Bible – “Is this a theater Jesus would have seen Himself during His visits (perhaps a total of five) to Jerusalem as recorded in the Gospels? It is fun to speculate.

Here is an amazing video of this incredible discovery:

 

 

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