‘Duck down’ is Joe Uziel’s constant refrain.
I’m struggling to keep up with the Israeli archaeologist as he slips his thin frame easily through the twisting and narrow tunnel studded with protruding rock. With only the light of our smartphones to guide us, I bend low to prevent my battered yellow hard hat from scraping the stone overhead. Then he stops abruptly. “I’m going to show you something cool.”
The cramped passage lies beneath a rocky spur of land jutting south from Jerusalem’s Old City. The narrow ridge, the site of early Jerusalem and today packed with houses occupied mostly by Palestinian residents, conceals a subterranean labyrinth of natural caves, Canaanite water channels, Judaean tunnels, and Roman quarries. This particular passage is of more recent vintage than most, having been hewed by two British archaeologists in the 1890s.