'The steps are not silent anymore'

After 2,000 years, the

A street recently uncovered in the capital's City of David was, metaphorically, "the last seam of independent Jews in Jerusalem," Uri Goldflam of Shalhevet Education and Consulting said on Wednesday. The street connects the Jews who lost their Second Commonwealth independence in 70 CE, and the Jewish people today, Goldflam said. "The symbolism... After Jews hid beneath the stairs from the Romans, and now as a free people, Jews can again walk above the street. After 2,000 years, the steps are not silent anymore." The one-to-two-meter wide section of a stepped street believed to be Jerusalem's central thoroughfare during the Second Temple period was uncovered at the Shiloah Pool excavation in the City of David. Located 550 meters south of the Temple Mount, the excavation is being conducted under the auspices of Prof. Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukron of the Antiquities Authority. "The [Jewish] pilgrims would begin the ascent to the [Second] Temple from here. This is the southernmost tip of the road, of which a section has already been discovered along the western face of the Temple Mount," Reich said in a statement. The limited scope of the 40-meter long excavation is related to the site's proximity to land owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and, on the other side, property owned by the Wakf Muslim religious trust. Neither party has granted permission for additional excavation on their land. Goldflam, of Shalhevet Education and Consulting (www.shalhevetconsulting.com), the street was "once the main artery of Jerusalem, where Jews, pagans, Romans and Jewish-Christians, including Jesus, all walked on the narrow steps. It is even believed that Jesus used the adjacent pools near the street to heal the blind." Along the street, "one can see the blocks that were removed to pry the people from their place of hiding to face their death," Goldflam said. The stone-paved street was originally uncovered between 1894 and 1897 by Prof. Frederick J. Bliss and Archibald C. Dickey of the British Palestine Exploration Fund, who re-covered the area with earth at the end of their excavation. Other sections of the road have been previously excavated and then covered over, including during digs in 1937 and from 1961 to 1967. American archeologist Julia Iatesta attributes the multiple digs at the site over the past 100 years to the intentions of "archeologists managing to pull everything that they needed from the site (each separate time) and re-covering the 2,000 year-old area to not expose the site to weather elements or to the public."