Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An ancient triclinium in Jerusalem?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Researchers: Jerusalem Structure Was Dining Room of Ancient City Council. Archaeologist Alexander Onn compares the Second Temple era hall with Israel's parliamentary cafeteria, a modern meeting place of the ruling elite (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
About five years ago, near the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, archaeologist Alexander Onn discovered remnants of an unusual building from the Second Temple period that has been dated to the end of the 1st century B.C.E.

The structure consists of two large rooms connected by a water system that featured a decorative fountain.

Archeologists have been in agreement that this was a large, opulent building from the Herodian period, perhaps the most opulent beyond the confines of the Temple Mount, but what it was used for had not been clear. The accepted assumption up until recently was that it was a large public fountain of the kind familiar from public squares in Roman cities at the time.

Now, however, Prof. Joseph Patrich of Hebrew University and Dr. Shlomit Wexler-Bedolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority say this was the triclinium, the site of the dining halls and reception areas of the city council of Jerusalem at the time. In some respects, that would make it like today’s Knesset cafeteria, the ultimate meeting place of the ruling elite.

Earlier this year there was mention of the discovery of a triclinium in France, the use of which was compared to Roman influences in Judea. And the "scriptorium" at Qumran has also been argued, controversially, to be a triclinium.