Step Back in Time at New Jerusalem Dig Site

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JERUSALEM -- Have you ever wanted to step back 3,000 years into the pages of the Bible? Now, visitors at a new archaeological site in Jerusalem can do just that.

For the first time in modern history, a unique ancient site has been opened to the public.

"Beginning today, visitors will actually be able to walk through First Temple remains, touch the stones, enjoy and study about yet another period of the archeology of the city of Jerusalem," said Jacob Fisch, executive director of the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

More than 3,000 years ago, stone masons built the walls to protect the city of Jerusalem. Archeological evidence indicates that the one who commissioned and oversaw this construction was King Solomon.

"The reality was that a very highly skilled fortification and sophisticated fortification was built by King Solomon," said Eilat Mazar, the archaeologist who uncovered and restored the site. "We are really lucky to reveal this fortification and this is only part of it. it's very impressive. And you saw these walls, huge stone walls and it continues."

Mazar recorded her findings in her book "Discovering the Solomonic Wall in Jerusalem."

She believes the Bible refers to this area in the I Kings 3:1. It reads: "Until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the Lord, and the wall of Jerusalem round about."

"When it becomes tangible, it becomes easier to believe in their ways what's written in the Bible," Mazar explained. "But at the same time, they have no idea that lots of it really can be seen and can be touched and we find lots of stuff that really go directly into the biblical sources."

The site is a record of Jerusalem's early history. For example, Mazar believes one floor was part of a royal building destroyed in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. The discovery also exposed a structure called the Gate House, which dates back to 3,000 years ago.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who helped open the site, says we can look to the future by experiencing our past.

"One of the best investments in our future is exposing our past. It enables people to come and see that it's real," he said. "Come and visit and go back home as ambassadors of peace."

"It shows that the Bible is real," Barkat continued. "It shows that 2,000 and 3000 years ago, Jerusalem was the center of the world. And we love to share that with the world."

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