Nahman Avigad

Twenty-three feet wide, a section of what is today known as the Broad Wall (see plan), was uncovered by Hebrew University archaeologist Nahman Avigad in his excavation of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in the 1970s. Like the wall and tower shown on the preceding page, the Broad Wall was built by Hezekiah in the eighth century B.C.E. to defend the city against the Assyrians. The walls erected by Hezekiah represent Jerusalem at its zenith; the city in the eighth century encompassed the southeastern and southwestern hills, the Temple Mount and a good part of today’s Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This large Jerusalem, David Ussishkin argues, was also the size of the Jerusalem rebuilt by the exiles after the return from Babylonia, with one key difference: The city of the returning exiles was impressive in size but underpopulated, as the Bible indicates: “The city was large and spacious; there were few people in it and no houses had yet been built” (Nehemiah 7:14).