Crusader Hospital Uncovered in Jerusalem's Old City

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli archaeologists are excavating a large hospital dating to the Crusader period (1099-1291 A.D.) in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City.

A team of Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists carrying out a pre-construction dig said an earthquake buried the hospital in 1457 A.D. The building is part of a sprawling 15-dunam (3.7-acre) complex, which remained buried until the Ottoman occupation.

During the Middle Ages, parts of the complex were used to stable horses and camels, as evidenced by bones unearthed at the site, along with large quantities of metal believed to have been used to shoe the horses.

Until about a decade ago, the building was used as a fruit and vegetable market, the IAA said in its press release. When the Grand Bazaar Company of East Jerusalem decided the 1,000-year-old building would be a great site for a restaurant, the IAA was called in for a pre-construction dig.

Guided by historical documentation, including meticulously drawn maps by the well-known German archaeologist Conrad Shick, the team began exploring the site.

"We've learned about the hospital from contemporary historical documents, most of which are written in Latin," Renee Forestany and Amit Re'em, co-directors of the excavation, explained. "These mention a sophisticated hospital that is as large and as organized as a modern hospital."

According to the report, the Waqf, the Islamic Trust responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Temple Mount, co-owns the building with the Grand Bazaar Company.

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