Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Jerusalem Home Harbors Buried Second Temple Artifacts

June 27, 2013 1:24 am 0 comments

Bronze key ring from Second Temple period. Photo: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency

Miriam Siebenberg lives in a very unusual house – unusual because of the fact that her home was built on top of another home, one that existed over 2,000 years ago. Within the ancient walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, Miriam and her husband Theo purchased a house after the Six Day War, eventually discovering that it contained a treasure trove of history buried deep underground.

Archeological excavations at the Siebenberg House. Photo: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency.

In the Siebenberg’s house, a collection of archaeological artifacts discovered after years of digging in the basement, appear on display. Arrowheads, ink-wells, coins, ancient pottery, a glass cup and pieces of jewelry including a bronze key ring, likely used in the Second Temple era by a woman to unlock her jewelry box, can all be seen in the display.

The Siebenberg House museum in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency

But even more intriguing is what lies beneath their home. One can see the remains of an ancient Jewish residence and a way of life that dates back to the days of King Solomon and the Second Temple period.

“The further we dug, the more history we uncovered,” Seibenberg told Tazpit News Agency in an exclusive interview.

Siebenberg credits her husband Theo with the drive to initiate the not-so-simple years of digging under their modern four-story house that eventually led to the archaeologicaldiscoveries

“When we moved into our finished home in 1970, Theo had a feeling that there was much more to this place,” said Siebenberg.

At that time, archaeological discoveries by Hebrew University archaeologists in the Jewish Quarter including the area around the Siebenberg’s home were making headlines. The Siebenbergs believed that perhaps there were artifacts buried under their home as well so Theo applied to the Department of Antiquities for a permit to excavate beneath their house.

“We invested our own money, brought in engineers, architects, archaeologists expert diggers, and donkeys to remove the rubble, digging up to 60 feet down to discover all this,” Siebenberg explains.

Siebenbergs display artifacts spanning two thousand years of Jerusalem's history. Photo: Tzuriel Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency

During more than 18 years of unearthing, the Siebenbergs discovered a ritual bath, known as a mikveh used by Jews during the Second Temple era, an aqueduct, a Byzantine water cistern, and even empty burial chambers believed to have been used by Jewish royalty in the 10th century B.C. during King Solomon’s reign.

Eventually, the remnants of the base wall of what is believed to be a Jewish home that stood 2,000 years ago, were also uncovered as were ancient Hasmonean stones, including one with a menorah engraving. Evidence of the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. was also discovered -a line of ash sealed into sedimentary rock was sent to a special lab in South Africa for testing, which found that the ashes were indeed from that time.

In the 1980s, the story behind the Siebenberg’s basement, which Theo had transformed into a museum for the public in 1985, received much international attention. National Geographic, the New York Times, BBC, ABC, NBC, and many other international media sources devoted coverage to the history being uncovered under the Siebenberg House.

“We had groups from all around the world visiting our archaeological museum including European parliamentarians, US Congressmen, foreign press and other leading figures,” Siebenberg told Tazpit News Agency.

In addition to the fascinating story of the Siebenberg House, the couple behind the digging has their own unique tale. Theo, named after Theodore Herzl, came from a wealthy diamond family in Antwerp that barely escaped Belgium following the Nazi takeover. While not religious, Theo grew up in a traditional Jewish family with a strong love for Israel. Siebenberg eventually emigrated to the Jewish state in 1966 after a series of successful international investments and married Miriam, who was born and raised in Tel Aviv.

“Theo always felt homeless, having been uprooted from his Antwerp home at the age of 16 by the Nazis,” says Miriam. “But he always knew he wanted to live in Jerusalem and as close as possible to where the Temple once stood – the most important place in Jewish history. This was the only place he considered home in his lifetime.”

Today, Miriam, continues to carry the legacy of the Siebenberg House. This past June, Miriam, with the help of her assistant, 27-year-old Adi Rabinowitz-Bedein, reopened the museum to the general public, providing tours of the home’s unique history while showcasing the archaeological finds. “This is our life’s work,”comments Miriam.

“My friends in Tel Aviv don’t understand why we live in Jerusalem,” says Miriam who describes herself as secular. “But I know my roots are here – both my roots and the roots of our people are right underneath this house.”

“I live the ancient past of the Jewish nation,” says Miriam. “And I want to share this history and experience with as many people as possible.”

To visit the Siebenberg House museum, call to make a reservation for a guided tour: 02-628-2341 or 0547267754. The museum is also available for cultural events and special occasions

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jenna Jameson Flips Janice Dickinson the Finger for Raiding Her Kosher Fridge on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (VIDEO)

    Jenna Jameson Flips Janice Dickinson the Finger for Raiding Her Kosher Fridge on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ (VIDEO)

    Former adult film star Jenna Jameson slammed Janice Dickinson on Sunday night’s episode of U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother after she found out that the former model took food from her kosher refrigerator, the Daily Mail reported. A hungry Dickinson took a pack of celery from Jameson’s fridge, which was reserved for food adhering to kosher dietary laws. When Jameson, who converted to Judaism, found out, she shouted, “I’m about to go eat Janice’s f***ing face.” The previous porn star then stormed into the kitchen and confronted Dickinson. She […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →