After many years of neglect, a 2,700-year-old Jerusalem fortress dating back to the time of the biblical kings of Judah is undergoing restoration, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Monday.
Located in the modern-day French Hill neighborhood, the approximately 18.5 x 13 meter citadel features an open courtyard, and rooms on both sides. Built on the top of the hill at an altitude of 832 meters, it was discovered at the end of the 1960s. Experts believe it might have been part of a series of citadels that were built to guard and protect Jerusalem during the First Temple Period, as mentioned in several parts of the Bible.
“Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem and built fortified towns in Judah,” reads a passage in the 11th chapter of Chronicles II, referring to King Solomon’s son, who is believed to have ruled over Judah in the 10th century BCE.
“He strengthened the fortified towns and put commanders in them, along with stores of food, oil and wine, and shields and spears in every town. He strengthened them exceedingly; thus Judah and Benjamin were his.”
“Jotham was 25 years old when he became king, and he reigned 16 years in Jerusalem; his mother’s name was Jerushah daughter of Zadok,” reads another passage in chapter 27. “He built towns in the hill country of Judah, and in the woods he built fortresses and towers.”
Conservation work in the fortress on the French Hill. (credit: YAEL KALMAN/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY) Conservation work in the fortress on the French Hill. (credit: YAEL KALMAN/ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)
Jotham is believed to have lived in the eighth century BCE.
The fortress was built with large stones and employed impressive technology.
The restoration work is being carried out by a team of IAA conservators with the participation of residents of the neighborhood as part of a project to preserve and protect heritage sites by the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry.
“Preserving heritage sites, developing them and passing them on to future generations is a national right and duty,” said IAA director Eli Escosido. “The Israel Antiquities Authority, together with the ‘Landmarks’ project of the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry, sees great importance in the community’s participation in the restoration of the heritage sites near their home. This way two goals are achieved together: The public saves our heritage assets, and at the same time, they develop a direct connection with them.”