About two months ago, archaeologists have revealed the possible discovery of the location of Jesus’ trial by Pontius Pilate. Traditionally, the Antonia Fortress has been named as the site of the trial. Located on the Northwest corner of the Temple Mount, the fortress marks the first station of the cross on the Via Dolorosa. However, the latest archeological findings point strongly to an area underneath the Tower of David as the true location of the trial rather than the Antonia Fortress.
According to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, upon being arrested, Jesus was led to the praetorium. “Praetorium” is a word of Latin origins, which is defined as a Roman generals tent in a camp or as the residence of an ancient Roman governor. In Jerusalem at the end of Jesus’ life, this would have been located in Herod’s Palace. For two thousand year the mystery remained: Where was Herod’s Palace?
The discovery began about 15 years ago when it was decided that the Tower of David Museum would undergo an expansion. As archaeologists began to uncover layer upon layer of earth underneath the abandoned building next to the museum, they found more than they anticipated. It was known that the Ottomans had used this area as a prison, so they expected to come across some interesting findings. However, as they dug deeper, they uncovered a great deal more than they bargained for: remains from Herod’s Palace!
Throughout the past several years, the Tower of David Museum has been in the process of constructing an exhibit offering tours which view the palace remains. This exhibit is now open to the public so Jerusalem visitors can now see for themselves this momentous Biblical site.