The Tower of David is one of Jerusalem's biggest attractions, drawing half a million visitors in 2019.
While the global pandemic is continuing to prevent tourism to Jerusalem, one of the ancient city’s most popular sites, the Tower of David, is getting some much needed renovations. Built over 2,500 years ago, the Tower of David has stood as a monument to the past for millennia, but now that work is commencing on the ancient structure, experts hope to explore what archaeological finds the restoration effort may reveal.
According to the Times of Israel, work began on the Tower in July, at which point the galleries of the Tower of David Museum were gutted and the excavation began. Renovations will see the construction of a new visitor’s center and entrance, as well as an increase in accessibility to the site. In the museum, plans are in place to establish new gallery space, as well as the conversion of unused areas into an educational department.
On the archaeological side of the work, the renovations have granted access to areas of the grounds that were previously undocumented, especially areas dated to the Middle Ages. The team has already excavated an underground chamber, located beneath the western tower, which the museum had been using for storage. Examination revealed the subterranean chamber to be a medieval-era cesspit with a tunnel that led under the city walls.
Amit Reem, a Jerusalem archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, told The Times of Israel of the excavation:
“We hope to find in the floor and under the floor some material that we will scrutinize by microscope, maybe to find to learn about the diet of the people here, about disease.” He added, “It’s a pity to say, but the coronavirus enabled the Tower of David Museum to close the museum because there are no tourists, no visitors, and dedicate this period of time to the renovation and to the archaeological project.”