Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Excavations below Jerusalem’s Church of the Redeemer

This may be the most interesting archaeological excavation in the Old City of Jerusalem in the last few years. The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is located next door to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. From DW:

Two-thousand years of biblical history lay buried 14 meters beneath the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. German archeologist Dieter Vieweger led the excavation of the site.

A Herodian quarry, the remains of Golgotha, buildings from the period of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, mosaics from the Church of Saint Maria Latina: At the end of 2012, the Archaeological Park was opened under the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem, giving visitors the chance to take a tour of these locations and understand the city's colorful past. German archeologist Dieter Vieweger spent three years building the park together with a team of students and experts.


The archaeological park makes 2,000 years of history in Jerusalem visible - from Herod to the Crusaders to today. As a biblical archeologist, which chapter in history do you find most interesting?

For me, of course, the oldest layers are the most interesting - those buried 14 meters (46 feet) under the Church of the Redeemer. That's where we found a stone quarry built by Herod the Great. You can actually walk around it and see how thick the stones were carved out, sawn and broken. The quarry was used to expand the city to the east of the site at Herod's instruction. But not all of the stone was taken from the ground where the Church of the Redeemer now stands. This area was later called Golgotha, the location where Jesus was crucified. In this section of the archeological park, visitors come very close to Christian and Jewish history.

The full article is here. The site is now open to the public, but it closes early in the afternoon. In a post last year, Tom Powers wrote about his tour of the site before it opened.

German Church of the Redeemer, mat00862

Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, early 1900s
Photo from The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection

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