Report: Western Wall finished after Herod

Nov. 23, 2011 at 8:21 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Archaeological excavations in Jerusalem revealed construction of the Western Wall was completed after King Herod's death, officials said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday a sealed ritual bath discovered in a recent dig next to an ancient drainage channel revealed the construction of the Western Wall was completed at least 20 years after King Herod's death around 4 BCE.

It had been believed Herod was solely responsible for constructing the Western Wall. During the recent dig, while sifting through soil inside the sealed ritual bath, archaeologists uncovered three clay oil lamps from the first century CE and 17 bronze coins, some dating back to around 17 or 18 CE, approximately 20 years after Herod's death, the authority said.

"This bit of archaeological information illustrates the fact that the construction of the Temple Mount walls and Robinson's Arch was an enormous project that lasted decades and was not completed during Herod's lifetime," the authority said.

The latest findings confirm descriptions by the Jewish historian Josephus, who said it was only during the reign of King Agrippa II (Herod's great-grandson) that the work was finished, the statement said.

The Western Wall is the holiest of Jewish sites and is a remnant of a retaining wall that once enclosed and supported the Second Temple.

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