A rare collection of several dozen adorned architectural stone artifacts from a magnificent structure was discovered in Israel Antiquities Authority excavations on Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv (Commissioner’s Palace) Promenade.
Among the soft limestone artifacts with decorative carvings are capitals of various sizes in the Proto-Aeolian architectural style — one of the most significant royal building features of the First Temple period.
“This is a first-time discovery of scaled-down models of the giant Proto-Aeolian capitals, of the kind found thus far in the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, where they were incorporated above the royal palace gates,” said Billig. “The level of workmanship on these capitals is the best seen to date, and the degree of preservation of the items is rare.”
Two of the three column capitals were found neatly buried, one on top of the other. “At this point it is still difficult to say who hid the capitals in the way they were discovered, and why he did so, but there is no doubt that this is one of the mysteries at this unique site, to which we will try to offer a solution,” Billig added.
The rest of the building was demolished, probably in the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
Some 2,600 years later, the British Mandatory administration built its central seat of government at the site. A few decades later, the Armon Hanatziv Promenade was built there, affording a spectacular view of the City of David and the Temple Mount.
The excavation’s findings will be displayed temporarily at the City of David.