Digs near Jerusalem have revealed a 2,000 year old pyramid podium, thought by archaeologists to be a platform where announcements or religious teachings were heralded from. Other historians claim the enormous First Century A.D. stone slabs served as an ancient “lost-and-found” hub.
Reports Discovery Communications: “Made from large ashlar — or finely cut — stones, the 2,000-year-old stepped structure leads to a podium. The puzzling staircase was found alongside a stepped street that once led Jewish pilgrims from the rock cut Pool of Siloama on the southern slope of the City of David to the Second Temple which stood atop the Temple Mount.”
The platform was unearthed in the City of David National Park, close to the walls of old Jerusalem. It was initially thought that the stairs led to some sort of building entrance, but after excavating further, it was found to be a stand-alone structure.
According to reports, historic texts and pottery fragments found near the podium may suggest it served as the Evan HaToen – the “Stone of Claims” – a place where individuals could make legal claims for lost property.
Explains IsraelNationalNews.com: “In the Mishnah and Talmud the ‘Stone of Claims’ is mentioned as a place that existed in Jerusalem during the Second Temple period: ‘Our Rabbis taught: There was a Stone of Claims in Jerusalem. Whoever lost an article repaired thither, and whoever found an article did likewise. The latter stood and proclaimed, and the former submitted his identification marks and received it back. And in reference to this we learnt: Go forth and see whether the Stone of Claims is covered.’”
Dr. Joe Uziel, co-director of the excavation from the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: “This is a unique monument and is not found anywhere else that we know of…Two thousand years ago, many Jewish pilgrims would have marched up here in order to take part in the services in the temple. We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public’s attention when walking on the city’s main street.”
Adds fellow archaeologist Nahshon Szanton: “Given the lack of a clear archaeological parallel to the stepped-structure, the purpose of the staircase remains a mystery. It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching – unfortunately we do not know.”
Dr. Uziel and Dr. Szanton will present their findings Thursday at the City of David Studies of Ancient Jerusalem’s 16th Annual Conference.