Roman theatre discovered adjacent to Western Wall in Jerusalem, dates back 1,700 years; Theatre may have been used for acoustic performance or bouleuterion; Site to open in 6 months to public, Oct. 17, 2017.

Israeli archeologists made yet another fascinating discovery in Old City Jerusalem- a Roman theatre built next to the Western Wall.

Archeologists from the Israel Antiquity Authority confirmed the discovery of the first Roman public structure ever discovered in Jerusalem on Monday, an ongoing archeological dig still underway.

The head of the excavation team, Joe Uziel, explained that the structure dates back around 1,700 years and was built by the Romans beneath the Wilson’s Arch, which is adjacent to the men’s prayer section of the Western Wall.

Uziel explained how for months the team was sure they would find a Roman road, only to find a Roman theatre and the first Roman public structure made in Jerusalem discovered to date.

He explained, “From a research perspective, this is a sensational find. The discovery was a real surprise. We did not imagine that a window would open for us onto the mystery of Jerusalem’s lost theater. Like much of archeological research, the expectation is that a certain thing will be found. But at the end of the process, other findings, surprising and thought-provoking, are unearthed.”

The team explained that the structure, “which is “relatively small structure compared to known Roman theaters, such as at Caesarea, Beit She’an and Beit Guvrin,”and is likely a “odeon”, used for “acoustic performance”. Another theory is that “the structure might have been what is known as a “bouleuterion”, the building where the city council met, in this case, the council of the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina.”

The team will continue its excavation for another 6 months before opening the site to the public.

The discovery is one of a few made in the past few months. In August, archeologists in northern Israel reported to possibly have found the Roman city of Julias, the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip. The discovery was made at Beit Habek in the Bethsaida Valley Nature Reserve on the shores of the Sea of Galilee by a group of archeologists from the Institute of Galilean Archeology. Julias was built on Bethsaida by the King Herod Phillipus, son of King Herod the Great. The city was named after Julias Augusta, the mother of Emperor Tiberius.

Just a few days later, a 2,000 year-old chalkstone quarry and vessel workshop in the lower Galilee dating to the Roman Period was found. The Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed the discovery, the fourth workshop of this kind in Israel to be discovered. Archeologists have been digging and researching the area in Reina after finding a similar workshop in the region. Two of the previously discovered quarries near Jerusalem.


Photo: Eivanov/