Biblical Archaeology Review 36:3, May/June 2010

Escape Clause

Where Jews fled from Roman destruction beneath the streets of Jerusalem

Josephus tells of the Jews who fled to the “mines” (underground passages) when the Romans conquered Jerusalem and burned the Temple in 70 C.E. The victorious Romans then “instituted a search for those in the mines, and, tearing up the ground slew all whom they met.”1 Some of the Jews were dying of hunger, while others had already perished. The “stench from the bodies” was “horrible,” Josephus tells us.2

At least part of these “mines” have recently been excavated by archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron in the City of David. The “mines” consist of a drainage tunnel beneath a magnificent roadway that extended from the western wall of the Temple Mount south to the Pool of Siloam.a The northern part of the roadway, adjacent to the western wall of the Temple Mount, was excavated by Reich long ago.b But only recently was the southern part uncovered.

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