Michal Ronnen Safdie

“The Tower of David” (far right), which is actually an Ottoman minaret more than 2,600 years later than David, and the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City look upon their newest neighbors, a residential complex (far left) and a parking garage (tiered structure at center) that form the heart of the Mamilla Project. Named after the nearby Pool of Mamilla, the development, when complete, will also boast a hotel.

Construction in Mamilla had hardly begun before builders stumbled across ancient remains. In the area slated for the garage, excavators uncovered tombs from the seventh through fifth centuries B.C.E., from the second century B.C.E. through the first century C.E. and from the Byzantine period (fourth-seventh centuries C.E.). One find in particular proved remarkable: a natural cave containing the bones of hundreds of people. Because many of the dead were relatively young, the excavators suspected that they had uncovered the victims of some disaster. Ronny Reich, who directed the dig, persisting despite harrassment from ultra-religious protesters, describes the tomb in the accompanying article and explains why he thinks it contains the victims of a massacre of Christians in 614 C.E.