JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli archaeologists unveiled on Wednesday a 2,100-year-old Jerusalem perimeter wall -- along with beer bottles left behind by 19th century researchers who first discovered the stone defences.
The wall, on Mount Zion at the southern edge of Jerusalem’s Old City, dates back to the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
Yehiel Zelinger, who headed the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the location of the wall indicated that Jerusalem had expanded to the south at the time, reaching its largest size in biblical times.
The 3.2-metre (10.5-foot)-high wall was not supported by any mortar or other bonding material and formed part of a 6 km (3.5-mile)-long fortification around the city, he said.
The present wall around Jerusalem’s Old City is 4 km (2.5 miles) in circumference.
The ancient wall on Mount Zion had disappeared from view by the time a similar stone barrier, also uncovered in the dig, was built at the site during the Byzantine period more than 250 years later. Nonetheless, the second wall followed almost exactly the same path.
“During these two periods, Jerusalem was the centre ... to the Jews during the Second Temple Period and to pilgrims from the Christian world (during the Byzantine Period),” Zelinger said.
British archaeologists surveyed the site in the 19th century, leaving behind a shoe and beer and wine bottles, which Zelinger’s team found and put on display on Wednesday.
Reporting by Avida Landau, Editing by Mark Trevelyan