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Peeling back layers of ancient Jerusalem

If you go to the famous Western Wall in Jerusalem, which is actually the western retaining wall of Herod’s Temple Mount and Judaism’s holiest prayer site, and then turn around, you will see at the other side of the plaza an area of less than half an acre that has recently been excavated. Large-scale archaeological excavations were conducted here between 2005 and 2010 on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, initiated and underwritten by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and directed by the authors of this article. What we have found sheds light on important transitional phases in Jerusalem’s history, but it also raises fascinating new questions.