While constructing the new museum entrance pavilion on the Citadel’s western side, next to Jaffa Gate, a new area slated to be an underground exhibition hall was excavated. During excavations, we were astonished to discover that a 50 m (160 ft) section of the Citadel wall, at this point also the city wall, built by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, is not supported by solid foundations at all, but rather built on … fill and refuse!
How did this happen? The Crusaders, 1000 years ago, built a deep trench surrounding the fortress, a moat. In Europe, moats were filled with water but in Jerusalem water was always scarce, and therefore, the moat was dry and empty during most years. During Ottoman times there was no need for a moat due to development of alternative defensive technologies. Instead, a large square was built to house the innovative weapon of the day – thte cannon. To that end, the moat was filled with dirt and trash, and the upper courtyard was paved in stone. During excavation and clearing work, the fill was discovered, along with ancient items from various periods: a glass bracelet, animal bones, a hand grenade, coins and more.
In short, this is not a good way to build a wall! Don’t worry, there is a solution. We have completed an extensive engineering project drilling cement pilings to support the wall and connect it to the bedrock at a depth of 17 meters, so that it will hold up for another 500 years!
When the work is completed, the cannon courtyard will be rebuilt and will showcase an original Ottoman cannon!