Mysterious Ancient Hand Imprint Found in Old City

By Hamodia Staff

YERUSHALAYIM — Elements of ancient Yerushalayim’s fortifications and a mysterious hand imprint carved in the rock have been uncovered in excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Part of a deep defensive moat that surrounded the city walls, probably dating from the tenth century and possibly earlier, was exposed. An unexplained carved hand imprint was discovered at one spot carved in the moat wall that runs along the main Sultan Suleiman Street adjacent to the city walls,

To date, the archaeologists have not deciphered the meaning of the hand imprint. “Does it symbolize something? Does it point to a specific nearby element? Or is it just a local prank? Time may tell,” say the researchers.

Zubair Adawi, Israel Antiquities Authority excavation director, who uncovered the moat, said: “People are not aware that this busy street is built directly over a huge moat, an enormous rock-hewn channel, at least 30 feet wide, and between 6–21 feet deep. The moat, surrounding the entire Old City, dates back about 1,000 years to the 10th century or earlier, and its function was to prevent the enemy besieging Jerusalem from approaching the walls and breaking into the city. Moats, usually filled with water, are well-known from fortifications and castles in Europe, but here the moat was dry, its width and depth presenting an obstacle slowing down the attacking army.”

The impressive walls and gates of the Old City visible today were built in the sixteenth century by the Turkish Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I, the Magnificent. “The earlier fortification walls that surrounded the ancient city of Jerusalem were much stronger,” says Dr. Amit Re’em, Yerushalayim regional Director at the IAA. “In the eras of knights’ battles, swords, arrows, and charging cavalry, the fortifications of Jerusalem were formidable and complex, comprising walls and elements to hold off large armies storming the city.”

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