Maze of tunnels reveals remains of ancient Jerusalem

Controversial excavations under the Holy City uncover layers of history and stoke long-standing tensions.

Below the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter, Father Samuel Aghoyan views a quarry that was used as a Jewish cemetery during the time of Jesus. A nearby rock outcrop is venerated as Golgotha, the hill on which Christ was crucified.

‘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.

Read This Next

Why kids need their own COVID-19 vaccine trials

A black-footed ferret has been cloned, a first for a U.S. endangered species

3-ton parts of Stonehenge may have been carried from earlier monuments

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet