JERUSALEM (AP) — The excavation of an ancient drainage tunnel beneath Jerusalem has yielded a sword, oil lamps, pots and coins abandoned during a war here 2,000 years ago, archaeologists said Monday, suggesting the finds were debris from a pivotal episode in the city’s history when rebels hid from Roman soldiers crushing a Jewish revolt.
The tunnel was built two millennia ago underneath one of Roman-era Jerusalem’s main streets, which today largely lies under an Arab neighborhood in the city’s eastern sector. After a four-year excavation, the tunnel is part of a growing network of subterranean passages under the politically combustible modern city.
The tunnel was intended to drain rainwater, but is also thought to have been used as a hiding place for the rebels during the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. That temple was razed, along with much of the city, by Roman legionnaires putting down the Jewish uprising in 70 A.D.
On Monday, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled a sword found in the tunnel late last month, measuring 24 inches (60 centimeters) in length and with its leather sheath intact. The sword likely belonged to a member of the Roman garrison around the time of the revolt, the archaeologists said.
“We found many things that we assume are linked to the rebels who hid out here, like oil lamps, cooking pots, objects that people used and took with them, perhaps, as a souvenir in the hope that they would be going back,” said Eli Shukron, the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist in charge of the dig.
The archaeologists also found a bronze key from the same era, coins minted by rebels with the slogan “Freedom of Zion,” and a crude carved depiction of a menorah, a seven-branched Jewish candelabra that was one of the central features of the Temple.
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