From Past Horizons:

Researchers on the Djedi robot expedition have now obtained video images from a tiny chamber hidden at the end of one of the shafts leading from the Queen’s chamber. This tunnel is particularly hard to explore because it is extremely narrow (20cm x 20cm), it is built at angle of 40 degrees and has no outside exit.
The team overcame these practical difficulties by using a robot explorer that could climb up inside the walls of the shaft whilst carrying a miniature ‘micro snake’ camera that can see around corners.
The bendy camera (8 mm diameter) was small enough to fit through a small hole in a stone ‘door’ at the end of the shaft, giving researchers a clear view into the chamber beyond.
The ‘micro snake’ camera’ allowed all walls of the camber to be carefully examined, revealing sights not seen by human eyes since the construction of the pyramid
When pieced together, the images gathered by Djedi revealed hieroglyphs written in red paint that team members suggest were made by workmen. Prior to this, researchers had only found hieroglyphs in the roof of the King’s Chamber, which lies some distance above the Queen’s Chamber.
“We believe that if these hieroglyphs could be deciphered they could help Egyptologists work out why these mysterious shafts were built,” Dr Richardson said.

The full story includes photos.

HT: Jack Sasson


Matti Friedman, writing for the AP, describes the various “underground tours” that are open to tourists in Jerusalem.  He also touches on the political and religious complications.

Underneath the crowded alleys and holy sites of old Jerusalem, hundreds of people are snaking at any given moment through tunnels, vaulted medieval chambers and Roman sewers in a rapidly expanding subterranean city invisible from the streets above.
At street level, the walled Old City is an energetic and fractious enclave with a physical landscape that is predominantly Islamic and a population that is mainly Arab.
Underground Jerusalem is different: Here the noise recedes, the fierce Middle Eastern sun disappears, and light comes from fluorescent bulbs. There is a smell of earth and mildew, and the geography recalls a Jewish city that existed 2,000 years ago.
Archaeological digs under the disputed Old City are a matter of immense sensitivity. For Israel, the tunnels are proof of the depth of Jewish roots here, and this has made the tunnels one of Jerusalem’s main tourist draws: The number of visitors, mostly Jews and Christians, has risen dramatically in recent years to more than a million visitors in 2010.
But many Palestinians, who reject Israel’s sovereignty in the city, see them as a threat to their own claims to Jerusalem. And some critics say they put an exaggerated focus on Jewish history.

The story continues here.  The underground “route” that Friedman describes begins with a walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (or its alternate, the Siloam Tunnel).  Then, later this summer, one will be able to enter the Roman drainage system and walk all the way to the Western Wall plaza.  In several years, a new route will take visitors on the first-century street beneath the prayer plaza.  That will link up with the Western Wall tunnels which run north along Herod’s well-preserved retaining wall.

For more of the political angle on the “Underground Jerusalem” excavations, see last month’s article in Haaretz (noted here).  For some additional photographs, see Leen Ritmeyer’s post.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Hasmonean channel, tb091802305

Western Wall tunnel: northern section through Hasmonean aqueduct
About the BiblePlaces Blog

The BiblePlaces Blog provides updates and analysis of the latest in biblical archaeology, history, and geography. Unless otherwise noted, the posts are written by Todd Bolen, PhD, Professor of Biblical Studies at The Master’s University.


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