Monday, September 14, 2009

Siloam Street Excavations Extended

Excavations continue to reveal more of the large 1st century city street that ran from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has issued a press release and made available two high-resolution photographs of the street and drainage channel.

The street is beautifully paved and though only 6 feet (2 m) in width have been exposed, the full width of the street is estimated to be 25 feet (8 m).

As far as I can tell, this story is not relating a new discovery but indicates that excavation work (once halted) has continued with success. It was mentioned on this blog before in December 2005, December 2006, and September 2007. In the 2005 post, I wrote:

The archaeologist told me that he would like to reveal the entire length of the road from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple Mount. I told him he was crazy. Unless he is thinking of digging a tunnel underneath all of those houses. Then he's still crazy :-).

Leen Ritmeyer believes that the report concerns a different street, namely a side street on the east side of the Byzantine/upper pool. He has a helpful drawing that illustrates that. In the articles I have read, it has not been clear to me that a separate street has been found, but Ritmeyer may have first-hand knowledge. (See update below.)

You can ignore any reports which describe these excavations as undermining Al Aqsa Mosque. The mosque is 1600 feet (500 m) distant. You should also ignore the ubiquitous comment in the news stories that the dig is funded by Elad. Such a note insinuates that the archaeologists distort their results, and anyone who knows Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun knows that that is a falsehood.

Joe Lauer has sent along links to the story in various sources, including Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, and Arutz-7. A previously mentioned IAA video of a tour of the City of David includes this street.

UPDATE (9/16): Ritmeyer has posted a correction.

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