...The tunnel was intended to drain rainwater, but is also thought to have been used as a hiding place for the rebels during the time of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. That temple was razed, along with much of the city, by Roman legionnaires putting down the Jewish uprising in 70 A.D.
On Monday, archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled a sword found in the tunnel late last month, measuring 24 inches (60 centimeters) in length and with its leather sheath intact. The sword likely belonged to a member of the Roman garrison around the time of the revolt, the archaeologists said.
"We found many things that we assume are linked to the rebels who hid out here, like oil lamps, cooking pots, objects that people used and took with them, perhaps, as a souvenir in the hope that they would be going back," said Eli Shukron, the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist in charge of the dig.
The archaeologists also found a bronze key from the same era, coins minted by rebels with the slogan "Freedom of Zion," and a crude carved depiction of a menorah, a seven-branched Jewish candelabra that was one of the central features of the Temple.
The flight of the rebels to tunnels like the one currently being excavated was described by the historian Josephus Flavius, a Jewish rebel general who shifted his allegiance to Rome during the revolt and penned the most important history of the uprising.
As the city burned, he wrote about five years afterward, the rebels decided their "last hope" lay in the tunnels. They planned to wait until the legions had departed and then emerge and escape.
"But this proved to be an idle dream, for they were not destined to escape from either God or the Romans," he wrote. The legionnaires tore up the paving stones above the drainage channels and exposed their hiding place.
"There too were found the bodies of more than two thousand, some slain by their own hands, some by another's; but most of them died by starvation," Josephus wrote. The victors proceeded to loot, he wrote, "for many precious objects were found in these passages..."