Has Jerusalem’s long lost Roman theatre been found?
Excavations in Jerusalem have recently uncovered a long lost Roman theatre.
The purpose of the excavations was to date Wilson’s Arch, a massive stone structure that once supported a bridge leading to the Temple Mount, dating to between 530 BCE and 70 CE Archaeologists thought it might date to the time of King Herod (37 BCE - 4CE).
Excavators were expecting the arch to stand on top of an earlier street, but instead they found the remains of a Roman era theatre, a round structure with seating for 200, stairs and a stage.
But the building was not a typical large Roman theatre, such as the ones found in other sites such as Beit She’an or Caesarea, but a relatively small covered structure.
Its small size has suggested to archaeologists that this is an odeon rather than a theatre, or possibly a bouleuterion – a building where the city council met. In this case that would have been the council of the Roman colony of Aelia Capitolina, the name given to Roman Jerusalem.
The strange thing is that it seems as though the theatre was never used. A number of findings at the site indicate this, including a staircase that was never completely hewn. It is clear that great effort was invested in the building’s construction, but oddly, it was abandoned before it was put to use.
The excavations beneath Wilson’s Arch also found other unique findings including pottery vessels, coins, architectural and architectural elements.
Remains of Jerusalem’s Roman odeon or bouleuterion