...The Ophel is the narrow promontory that straddles the southern edge of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and Old City, and is thought to contain monumental remains extending from at least the time of the early Israelite and Judahite kings through the Byzantine and early Islamic periods.
Led by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the renewed excavations are focusing on the same area where recent excavations have uncovered not only finds dated to the Second Temple, Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods, but also what Mazar and others suggest may be the remains of structures attributed to builders during the period of King Solomon in the 10th century B.C. These remains included a section of a massive wall of large, well-dressed stones 70 meters long and 6 meters high. Also uncovered with the wall was a structure interpreted as an inner gatehouse, a royal structure adjacent to the gatehouse, and a section of a corner tower 8 meters long and 6 meters high, built of carved stones, all overlooking the Kidron Valley below. Associated with the complex, but as yet unexcavated by Mazar, were indications of a large tower that covered an area of about 24 by 18 meters. This was the large tower first discovered by British explorer Charles Warren in 1867, and now interpreted by Mazar as possibly a watchtower that guarded entrance to the city.
A portion of the excavated gate complex. Photo credit: Shmuel Browns
Remains of the royal structure. Photo credit: Shmuel Browns
...Though the Ophel excavations have already shown promise for shedding new light on the Jerusalem of the 10th century and later centuries, the efforts do not go without scholarly controversy. Some prominent Israeli archaeologists, like Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, have disputed Mazar's interpretation of the finds...