Just this hour, archaeologist Eli Shukrun, who’s many discoveries we’ve written aboutbefore, has announced findings from the end of the second temple period in Jerusalem. Deep underground, in a dried out water cistern, Shukrun discovered remnants from one of the saddest chapters in Jewish history.

We’re now in a period of the calendar called בין המצרים or Between the Straits (a reference to Lamentations 1:3) which runs for three weeks between the fast of the 17th of Tammuz until the intense mourning of the Ninth of Av. It was during this time, almost 2000 years ago, that the Roman tenth legion attacked Jerusalem. Then, a bitter civil war had erupted among the Jews as well, with political zealots fighting against the moderate majority, forcing them into an ill-fated rebellion with their Roman overlords.

Josephus describes how the refugees hid in underground passageways and tunnels, eating in secret to avoid detection. Shukrun’s discovery today shows us in dramatic fashion how they lived then. In a dried out cistern, deep below the streets of Roman Jerusalem, Shukrun found empty pottery vessels used to store food and a small clay lamp. The refugees hid here, eating in secrecy, hoping for the Roman siege to pass.

Professor Shukrun exhibiting an oil lamp. Photo: Eli Mandelbaum

These findings, made at this very important time of year, should serve to underscore for all of us the need to cooperate and see past our difference, whether they be political, religious, cultural or otherwise.

YNet broke the story first.