Ottoman Remains Raise Questions about Jesus' Trial

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The exact location of where Jesus was sentenced to death has remained a mystery for 2,000 years. But now, a recent archaeological discovery in Jerusalem is causing some Christians to question their long-held theories.

Each year, thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world journey to Jerusalem for Holy Week.

They walk down the Via Dolorosa, the route that Jesus walked on his way to the crucifixion. Near Mount Zion, they can view a remarkable archaeological discovery.

In 1999, excavations around the Kishle prison revealed something massive: buried beneath the Ottoman-era prison were the remaining walls of a great palace.

Amit Re'em, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the remains suggest the ground is the actual palace of Herod the Great.

"We have the retaining walls," he said. "It was a massive engineering project, and we see it in the excavation. We even found an enormous underground sewage that could only belong to the palace of Herod."

If the remains prove to be Herod's Palace, could it also be the spot where Jesus was tried?

Some Christian historians believe his trial occurred in Herod's Palace, while others insist he was put on trial at the Antonia Barracks Fortress.

The Bible says Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate at the praetorium, his residence. But speculation abounds on whether Pilate resided at the palace, or the Antonia Fortress.

Christian archaeology professor Father Eugenio Alliata said it's possible the praetorium was located at Herod's palace.

But he said the evidence must be more compelling if the Catholic Church is to abandon its long-held belief that the trial occurred at the Antonia Fortress.

"Usually we stay with the last tradition we receive," Alliata explained. "And it is necessary to have a very strong argument in favor of an older tradition to go back to that."

While the Herod palace discovery may alter some views of the actual location of Jesus' trial, still unchanged is the actual reason for his conviction, crucifixion, and resurrection.

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