Jerusalem stone carvings baffle archaeologists

  • 06/12/2011

Archaeologists have discovered mysterious stone carvings at an excavation site in Jerusalem. The carvings - which were engraved thousands of years ago - have baffled experts.

Israeli archaeologists excavating in the oldest part of the city discovered a complex of rooms with three "V" shapes carved into the floor. Yet there were no other clues as to their purpose and nothing to identity the people who made them.

Some experts believe the markings were made at least 2,800 years ago and may have helped hold up some kind of wooden structure. Others say an ancient people may have held ritual functions there.

The purpose of the complex is another aspect of the mystery.

There are straight lines on the walls and floors - something archaeologists see as evidence of careful engineering. The markings are also located close to the city's only natural water source - the Gihon spring - suggesting they may have had an important role.

Eli Shukron, a co-director of the project that found the markings, said they were a "little bit" mysterious.

"It's something that is here on the floor in this room from the First Temple period and we don't know yet what it means," he added. The First Temple period refers to a period in the ancient city beginning in the 10th century before the Christian era.

With experts unable to come up with a theory about the markings, the archaeologists posted a photo on Facebook and asked for suggestions.

Opinions ranged from the thought-provoking - "moulds into which molten metal could have been poured" - to the generic - "ancient Hebrew or Egyptian characters".

The archaeological dig is known as The City of David, a politically-sensitive project funded by the Israeli government and Jewish nationalists.

Palestinians and some Israeli archaeologists have criticised the dig for what they say is an excessive focus on Jewish remains. The participants deny that charge.

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