Israel Antiquities Authority

Preparing for a wave of tourists, restorers shore up Jerusalem’s earliest wall, dating to about 1800 B.C.E. At points 10-feet thick, the wall encircled the Middle Bronze city, which was confined to the small, narrow ridge known as the City of David, south of the Temple Mount. Kathleen Kenyon discovered a 65-foot stretch of the massive wall in the 1960s, and Yigal Shiloh found an additional 200 feet, including this segment, in the 1970s.

As the city expanded to the north and west, new fortifications sometimes followed the line of this earliest wall in places. The small, tightly packed stones at upper left belong to the wall that fortified Hasmonean Jerusalem (141–37 B.C.E.). Erroneously dubbed the “First Wall” by Josephus, this structure followed the line of the earliest wall south around the City of David, then ran west across the Tyropoeon Valley, encompassed the southern half of Mount Zion, turned east at Jaffa Gate and encircled the Temple Mount. The Hasmonean ruler Simon Maccabee, the Bible relates, “hurried on the completion of the walls of Jerusaelm until it was fortified on all sides” (1 Maccabees 13:10). The Israel Antiquities Authority is preserving these various city walls, dating from the Middle Bronze Age through the Second Temple period, as the centerpiece of an archaeological park in the City of David.