The Israel Antiquities Authority recently announced the discovery of a lavish structure underneath the Old City of Jerusalem near the Western Wall. Part of the building was noted by British archaeologist, Charles Warren, in the 19th century, but he only penetrated one of the chambers and found it filled with earth. The recently-excavated structure contains two rooms decorated with Corinthian capitals, which protrude from the walls. These rooms are connected by another which once featured a fountain with running water. Based on pottery and Carbon-14 samples taken from the floor, it was constructed ca. 20 AD, and was likely used as a triclinium, or dining room for the upper class on their way to worship. At one time, the rooms would have had wooden sofas running all around the walls, where visitors reclined and ate; the furniture has not survived, but the imprint on the walls where they once were can still be seen. Sometime prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, the fountain was taken out and a mikveh (ritual bath) was added. This structure will soon be open to the public as a new stop on the Western Wall Tunnels Tour, which allows people to visit the ancient city below the modern one.
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