Third Discovery- A First Century BuildingWhen Ron realized what he had found, he quickly climbed back up the shaft he had dug and he and the boys continued their tunnel back in the direction of the first site. Soon, they found the remains of a buried structure. This building was built directly adjacent to the cliff-face and a portion of the back wall extended along the actual face of the cliff. The foundations of the building were still in place.
As Ron studied the best preserved sections, he discovered a hewn stone extending out horizontally from the wall against the cliff face- his first impression was that it was an altar. It displayed smooth wear on its top.
It was below and in front of this "altar stone" that Ron noticed a very unusual large rock. When he examined the rock closer, he saw that it was covered in travertine- travertine is formed when underground acified water seeps through preexisting limestone and dissolves calcium carbonate; as this water containing calcium carbonate flows over objects and begins to evaporate or lose it's carbon dioxide, this dissolved limestone is redeposited in the form of stalactites and stalagmites, flowstone, etc. In this case, it was redeposited in the form of a coating over the rock which can be clearly seen, when examining the rock in person, in the layering of the coating.
As they removed more dirt and debris, he discovered a platform-like shelf of bedrock which extended out about 8 feet from the face of the cliff, and this squarish hole was chiseled in this "shelf".There were no more holes in the platform-like shelf, so he began digging into the packed earth in front of and level with the "platform".
It was about 4 feet before he came to the lower level of bedrock, and here he uncovered 3 more squarish holes chiseled in the rock in front of this "platform". His measurements showed that the elevated "platform" with the squarish hole and crack were located 14 feet directly below the 3 cut-out niches in the face of the cliff, now above ground level.
His earlier conclusion that the cut-out niches were for the signs stating the crucifixion victim's crime in the 3 languages of Jerusalem was now supported by the fact that he had found more square holes, all about 12 to 13 inches square, cut into the bedrock- holes he firmly believed once held crosses. The one elevated above the rest (on the shelf-like platform of bedrock), he believed, held Christ's!
The building structure that remained intact showed that a building covered the entire site. He concluded, based on the evidence they'd found, that a Christian church had been built over the place of the crucifixion of Christ- the stone wall extended along the cliff-face directly behind the cross-hole that was on the "platform-like" shelf of bedrock. It appeared that this was the place where the "featured" criminal-victim was crucified, being elevated several feet above those crucified around him.
The "altar stone" was set in the stone wall, extending out horizontally
almost directly above the elevated cross-hole with the crack.
He found coins during the course of the excavation which helped to narrow the date of the building. He found a Roman coin with Emperor Tiberius who was Emperor from 14 to 37 AD, which was the earliest dated coin they found. The latest coins were from about 135 AD, but no later. This is consistent with the known history of Jerusalem and placed the date of the building between the time of the crucifixion and 135 AD.
But further information indicates that it was most likely built after
70 AD. Prior to 70 AD, (when the city and the temple were completely destroyed
by the Roman general, Titus), Jerusalem was still under Roman rule and
the crucifixion grounds would have remained in use. Josephus tells how
Titus, during his siege of Jerusalem, had as many as 500 people a day crucified
(Wars of the Jews, Book V, Chapter XI, para. 1).
But after the destruction in 70 AD, with most of the Jewish inhabitants having been killed or sold as slaves, the city was reduced to a Roman camp. Vespasian offered the landed property of Jerusalem for sale to foreigners, although we have no records of who purchased any land there. The garrison of 800 Romans in the camp was stationed there to insure that the city was not rebuilt. The hatred of the Romans was for the Jews. Therefore, during the time after 70 AD, when Jerusalem was only a Roman camp with the occasional foreigner (non-Jew) living in the area, the use of crucifixion would be virtually eliminated.
The Christians were apparently tolerated by the Romans, as is supported by the fact that in 130 AD, when the Emperor Hadrian came to Jerusalem to rebuild it as a Roman city named Aelia Capitolina, he showed favor to the Christians while forbidding any Jew to ever set foot in the city again.
This and other things contributed to a revolt among the Jews in Judea in 132 AD which finally resulted in the death of at least half a million Jewish men, and from this time on, Judea was no longer called by that name, but referred to by the old name of "Palestine".
The new Roman city of Aelia Capitolina remained a city, but did not prosper. The fact that the coins Ron found in the ancient building cease at about 135 AD indicates that whoever built and used this ancient structure apparently abandoned it at that time and left the region. The fact that the foundations are still intact indicates that it didn't suffer destruction at the hands of an invader, but most likely fell into disuse and decay. Eventually, over time, it was covered in dirt and debris. Whatever was the case, the evidence shows that the structures were not disturbed since the Roman time.