Experts stumped after finding 1000-year-old handprint
Recent archaeological findings from Jerusalem have been exhilarating! During the excavations on Sultan Suleiman Street, between the Damascus and Lions’ Gates, archaeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed pieces of the city’s fortifications as well as an entrancing carved hand imprint.
Before infrastructure work began, the Moriah Development Corporation conducted excavations that revealed a portion of an ancient defensive moat. This structure is thought to be from as early as the 10th century CE or earlier!
Unexpectedly, they discovered a hand-carved imprint that still has yet to be deciphered.
During his excavation, Zubair Adawi–the Israel Antiquities Authority’s director–unearthed the moat that lies below the main street. According to him, this ancient structure dates as far back as 1,000 years ago and was designed to protect Jerusalem from enemy siege by preventing them from getting close enough to its walls.
The magnificent walls and gates that awe visitors today were erected in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman I, also known as The Magnificent. This Turkish Ottoman ruler left behind a lasting legacy onto the Old City of Jerusalem.
“The earlier fortification walls that surrounded the ancient city of Jerusalem were much stronger,” says Dr. Amit Re’em, Jerusalem Region Director at the Israel Antiquities Authority.
“Armies trying to capture the city in the Middle Ages had to cross the deep moat, and behind it, two additional thick fortification walls, while the defenders of the city on the walls rained down on them fire and sulfur. As if this wasn’t enough, there were secret tunnels in the fortifications, some of them uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists in previous excavations, whereby the city defenders could emerge into the moat and attack the enemy by surprise, and then disappear back into the city.”
As archaeologists dug deeper into the moat wall, they discovered a peculiar handprint carved in its surface. The profound significance of this carving has yet to be uncovered. “Is it merely an insignificant prank or does it hold some greater meaning? Only time will tell,” spoke the researchers as they contemplated their findings.
According to Eli Escuzido, Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “Many dreamed about and fought for Jerusalem, and the city fortifications are a silent testimony. The archaeological finds enable us to visualize the dramatic events and the upheavals that the city underwent.
One can imagine the tumult and almost smell the battle smoke. We are daily unraveling the city’s intensive military history, and we will make great efforts to exhibit the findings to the public. “