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Massive remains of a Roman theater have been found in Jerusalem

AP Photo I Sebastian Scheiner
Israel's Antiquities Authority's Tehillah Lieberman stands in an ancient Roman theater-like structure at the Western Wall tunnels in Jerusalem's old city, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique 1,800-year-old structure abutting the Western Wall that is believed to have been built during Roman Emperor Hadrian's reign. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The so-called “Western Wall tunnels” still have much to reveal.

Standing against the façade of Jerusalem’s Western Wall one finds the so-called “Wilson’s Arch”: a massive structure that once was part of an aqueduct system. As the arch has not been yet precisely dated, the Israel Antiquities Authority started an excavation beneath it, looking for objects – mainly coins and pottery — that might shed some light on the question of when the arch was built.

The archaeologists did find ceramic fragments and coins. But they also stumbled into something unexpected: the remains of a Roman theater big enough to accommodate 200 spectators.

Because of its size (and location, under an arch) the structure is not technically a theater, but rather an “odeon.” As Alok Bannerjee explains, because of its acoustic features, an odeon would be the perfect place for “singing exercises, musical shows, and even poetry competitions.” There’s also the possibility that the place was rather used as a “bouleterion,” the meeting place of the city council. But it might also be the case that the structure was never used at all: The excavations have revealed the building was never completed, possibly because the Third Jewish-Roman war (132-136) made it impossible.

Read more here, and watch the video below to see the archaeologists at work!

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