Did Abraham walk this way?
Did Abraham walk this way?Israel news photo: Vladimir Neichin

A Jerusalem walkway from the times of the Patriarch Abraham, protected by a wall of large rocks, has been discovered, and will be displayed to the public on Thursday.

The double-wall was uncovered in a dig run by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and sponsored by the City of David Association. Prof. Roni Reich of the University of Haifa, who is directing the dig together with Eli Shukrun of the IAA, told Israel National News, "Based on clay pottery fragments found at the site, it is assumed to have been built by the Canaanites some 3,700 years ago, during the period known as the Middle Bronze Age."

The Patriarch Abraham met with "Malki-Tzedek, King of Shalem" - later known as Jerusalem - during this period, according to Biblical chronology and Genesis 14,18.

The fortifications are eight meters (over 26 feet) high, and served to protect those walking down to a spring in what is now the National Park, around and at the foot of the walls of Jerusalem. Some 24 meters of the double wall’s length have been uncovered, but it is apparently even longer, waiting to be uncovered in the future.

“This is the most massive wall ever discovered in the City of David," Reich said. "It is tremendously large in terms of its dimensions, thickness, and size of the rocks used. It appears that they protect a walk-way used to walk down from some tower atop the hill towards the spring.”

The protected passage is designed to solve an inherent paradox in the need for a spring, Reich explained: “On the one hand, water is necessary, especially in times of crisis, but its source is located in a spring, in the lowest and most vulnerable spot in the area. Thus the need to build such a protected passage, even though it involved great effort.”

A small part of the fortifications was first discovered exactly 100 years ago by a British archaeologist, but now it has become clear that these were just part of a very large double-wall.  “This is the first time we have found such massive building in Jerusalem from before the period of King Herod,” Reich said.

Fortifications on such a massive scale indicate that Jerusalem became, at this time, a city-state of its own that was able to deploy and gather the resources to build them. “A small village would not have been able to build such a structure,” Reich said.

“This discovery shows that our picture of Jerusalem’s eastern fortifications, and of its water supply, from these periods is far from complete,” Reich said. “Though so many people have dug this hill, there is still a strong chance that large architectural elements are still well-hidden and waiting to be discovered.”

The fortifications will be opened to the public for the first time on Thursday during the 10th annual City of David Research Conference. Other discoveries will be on display as well, and tours of the area – 17 different routes! - will be provided as well.