In January of 1970, only three years after the reunification of Jerusalem in the Six Day War, a group of archeologists, led by Prof. Nachman Avigad stood in silence around a large pit that was initially excavated on the outskirts of the destroyed Jewish Quarter in preparation for new construction. The mud, bustle and noise of the Jewish Quarter being slowly rebuilt and restored, along with the relentless winter cold and rain, did not distract them. They continued to stare down, as though bewitched, while before them, the collapsed ruins of a burnt and blackened building destroyed in 70 CE during the Great Revolt against the Romans, began to reveal themselves. This was the first time that remnants of the destruction of Second Temple period Jerusalem were discovered in the city, and the excitement was immense.
It was later discovered that the building, which came to be known as “The Burnt House”, was part of a residential neighborhood where the wealthy people of Jerusalem lived, most of which can be seen in the neighboring site, “The Herodian Quarter”.
Today, dozens of years after the discovery that made waves in Israel and around the world, we descend into the silence below the modern building which was built here. The sounds of the quarter disappear behind us and we find ourselves at the bottom of the staircase, in the basement of a long-destroyed ancient building, where Jerusalemite Jews lived in the late Second Temple period. In the excavation, we can see the remains of the destruction, that expose the moments of horror before the neighborhood fell to the Romans on the 8th of Elul, 3830, which is 70 CE. The experience video screened onsite weaves the archeological findings into the story of a Jewish family of kohanim, the Katros family, in their home celebrating the last Passover before the imminent destruction… we hear about the divide and hostility among the Jewish community, about the war against the Roman conquerors, and the difficult moral questions that troubled the people at the time and continue to do so today.
Our recommendation: After watching the video, we recommend that you spend a few minutes browsing the exhibition of findings discovered on the site, including a stone weight engraved with the name Katros, the name of the family of kohanim that we know from the Pesachim of the Talmud. A second stone weight was recently discovered nearby, under the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, bearing the name of this family. Alongside the stone weight you’ll see a spearhead installed by the Jewish rebels while defending themselves against the legions of Romans who had furiously stormed their houses, pottery and tools carved from Jerusalemite stone. Look out for one of the tools made of a type of stone that cannot be found in Jerusalem, brought in from afar; can you recognize it and guess what it was used for and where it was brought from?
*You must bring this ticket with you to enter the site.
*The video is in Hebrew.
*Visit duration: approximately 40 minutes.
*The address is 2 Tiferet Yisrael Street
*Please arrive at least 10 minutes before your visit booking time
*Please take into account traffic in Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter in particular on Chol HaMoed days, and prepare accordingly.
*Cancellation terms: up to 3 business days before the visit, cancelling after this will be charged at the full price.
*Visits are subject to the guidance of the Ministry of Health.