The history of one of the world’s holiest sites – sacred to both Jews and Muslims – is set to be rewritten, following a surprise discovery in a ritual bath beneath the complex.
Newly found coins underneath Jerusalem’s Western Wall could change the accepted belief about the construction of one of the world’s most sacred sites two millennia ago, Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday.
The man usually credited with building the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary is Herod, a Jewish ruler who died in 4 B.C.
Herod’s monumental compound replaced and expanded a much older Jewish temple complex on the same site.
But archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority now say diggers have found coins underneath the massive foundation stones of the compound’s Western Wall that were stamped by a Roman proconsul 20 years after Herod’s death.
That indicates that Herod did not build the wall – part of which is venerated as Judaism’s holiest prayer site – and that construction was not close to being complete when he died.
‘The find changes the way we see the construction, and shows it lasted for longer than we originally thought,’ said the dig’s co-director, Eli Shukron.
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