THE QISHLE EXCAVATION IN THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
By Amit Re'em
The archaeological excavations near the Jaffa Gate, the main entryway to the Old City of Jerusalem, are among the most significant excavations of recent decades. They uncovered a large area beneath the Qishle, a historical prison within a 19th-century structure, revealing remarkable findings from the Iron Age to modern times.
The remains of an imposing wall were found – probably a city wall of the First Temple period, dating to the 8th century BCE, as well as a large portion of the First Wall – Jerusalem’s Hasmonean-era fortification. Other noteworthy discoveries include retaining walls and a sewage system from the time of Herod the Great that were part of Herod’s Upper City palace; medieval installations, and a section of the curtain wall from the Crusader/Ayyubid period.
The Qishle excavations have opened an extraordinary window onto underground Jerusalem, revealing a striking example of the ancient city’s stratigraphy and allowing us a glimpse of the fascinating history of ancient Jerusalem.
About the author
Amit Re’em is a senior archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, currently serving as Jerusalem district archeologist. For more than 27 years, he has been exploring, researching and writing about ancient Jerusalem. His excavations include King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, the Muristan, the Holy Sepulchre, sites on the Mount of Olives, Lion’s Gate, and many others. His main research interests are Crusader and medieval Jerusalem.