Ancient stone arch that is part of Jerusalem’s ‘great elevated bridge’ to bring worshipers to the Temple Mount was built between 20 BC. And AD 20. During the reign of King Herod, carbon dating shows
- Archaeologists used method on charred seeds and stems between the stones
- They also discovered that changes were made to the arch between 30 and 60 AD
- Previous estimates for the date of the old structures had varied by 700 years
An ancient stone arch next to the western wall of Jerusalem was first dated between 20 BC and 20 AD, during the reign of King Herod or immediately after his death.
Archaeologists took charred seeds and stems, which formed mortar for the arch, and analyzed them using carbon dating to determine their age.
Tests on the 33 samples confirmed a long-suspected link to King Herod, but also revealed changes were made between 30 and 60 AD when the holy city was ruled by Pontius Pilate.
The Wilson Arch, seen on a visit to the Western Wall, was part of the former large elevated bridge pilgrims crossed to reach the Temple Mount.
The Wilson Arch, depicted lower left next to the western wall, was built between 20 BC and 20 AD, reveals radiocarbon dating, during King Herod’s reign
They also discovered that changes were made to the arch between 30 and 60 AD, at a time when Pontius Pilate was in charge of the city. (The area behind the gate is shown)
Archaeologists took their samples during excavations between 2015 and 2019 after obtaining permission from the Israeli Antiques Authority.
They were then analyzed in a laboratory to provide reliable data for the old structure.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, aims to settle disputes over the construction date of the arc, which varies by about 700 years.
“We absolutely dated monumental constructions to very narrow time windows – even to specific rulers,” said study author Dr. Johanna Regev of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
“The Arch of Wilson was initiated by Herod the Great and enlarged during the Roman Procurators, such as Pontius Pilate, over a period of 70 years instead of 700, as discussed earlier by scientists.”
It was part of the large elevated bridge, where pilgrims walked to reach the Temple Mount
The technique deviates from traditional methods, which are based on material culture findings such as coins to estimate specific data.
But the archaeologists hope that their technique will be applied elsewhere to get more accurate data for other monuments in the eastern Mediterranean.
Radiocarbon dating works by measuring the amount of carbon-14 in an old organic item such as leaves, feces, or dead animals.
The carbon is absorbed while alive and decays in a predictable way, allowing archaeologists to estimate ages reliably.
However, the method is not always accurate. Atmospheric variations of carbon, which vary with time period, must be taken into account to determine age when using the method.
There is also a risk that samples can be contaminated by other materials.