The tunnels used to escape the Romans remained hidden from ISIS
In a near miraculous turn of events, just as the Romans could not find the entrance to this elaborate network of tunnels, ISIS completely overlooked the ancient gate that leads deep underground. Had the Islamic State found the site, it would have likely been destroyed.
For three years archaeologists kept the site a secret in the hope that they might begin excavation once ISIS was gone. They finally began the process in August 2017, revealing a second component of the tunnel system with stone steps leading to a cave that contained different rooms and Christian symbols.
Abdulwahab Sheko, head of the Exploration Committee at the Ruins Council in Manbij, spoke to Fox News about the first “location.”
“This place is so special,” He told Fox News, “Here is where I think the security guard would stand at the gate watching for any movement outside.
“He would warn the others to exit through the other passage if they needed to flee.”
Fox News notes that the first tunnel was devoid of Christian symbols, suggesting that it was in use during the height of Roman persecution, while the second tunnel contains crosses, leading experts to assume it was in use after Constantine decriminalized Christianity, in the year 313.
Now that ISIS has been driven from the area, archaeologists are free to excavate deeper and see what they find. Researchers at the site say they are committed to protecting it.
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