Along an ancient street in Jerusalem, archaeologists have found an enigmatic flight of stairs that leads to a podium. And for now, no one knows what the 2,000-year-old structures — which date to the time of Jesus — were used for.
But archaeologists are certain the podium was pretty important, since it was placed just along the road in order to capture the public’s attention, Nahshon Szanton and Joe Uziel told the Jerusalem Post.
But what was going on there that was so important?
“It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching? Unfortunately we do not know.”
The 2,000-year-old, pyramid-shaped staircase is made of finely cut stones called ashlar, Discovery News added. Both the staircase and the podium were found along a roadway on the southern slope of the City of David, near the Second Temple, which stood on top of the Temple Mount.
A brief reminder of your Biblical history: the Second Temple era ran from 538 B.C. to 70 A.D. It was built by King Herod and was meant to replace one destroyed by Babylonians in 587 B.C. By 70 A.D. Herod’s structure was destroyed and its treasures stolen, this time by Romans. When they returned to Rome, they paraded the loot around the city, where it helped to fund the construction of the Coliseum.
The street itself — built of huge stone slabs — is also ancient: built in the first century, it led Jewish pilgrims from the Pool of Siloam to the temple; the podium was discovered as archaeologists excavated the road. In fact, both were excavated a century ago by two British archaeologists, who believed the stairs led to a demolished house.
“The structure exposed is unique. To date, such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem, and to the best of our knowledge, outside of it.”
Of course, there are some theories about the 2,000-year-old podium’s purpose. Rabbinic sources refer to a “Stone of Claims” in Jerusalem — a kind of ancient lost and found. Other stones in the city were used as an auction block. Another hint: a collection of glassware and whole pottery and stone vessels were found littered at its foot.
But such information provides only elusive clues, so for now researchers can only imagine what it was used for 2,000 years ago.
“Given the lack of a clear archaeological parallel to the stepped-structure, the purpose of the staircase remains a mystery.”
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