Israeli archaeologists have found the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem’s Old City, a unique 1,800-year-old structure abutting the Western Wall.
Archaeologists uncovered the edifice’s elegant masonry during recent excavations below the Western Wall tunnels, a warren of ancient subterranean passageways running alongside a contested Jerusalem holy site built by King Herod in the first century B.C.
Joe Uziel, an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist heading the dig, said Monday that the theater-like structure dates to the second or third centuries — after Rome razed the city and rebuilt it as a Roman colony. He said the structure may date back to Emperor Hadrian’s reign.
Uziel speculates that the unfinished semi-circular theater may have been intended to serve as an odeon, a venue for musical or theatric performances.