A huge building which during the Crusader period was the largest hospital in the Middle East has been discovered in the heart of Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced on Monday.
Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, the 1,000-year-old hospital was identified following a decade-long reconstruction operation.
“Until a decade or so ago the building served as a bustling and crowded fruit and vegetable market. Since then it stood there desolate,” the IAA said in a statement.
According to Renee Forestany and Amit Re’em, the IAA excavation directors, the structure, only a small part of which was unearthed in the excavation, spread out over more than 150,000 square feet.
It featured massive pillars, ribbed vaults, rooms, smaller halls and ceilings as high as 20 feet.
The hospital was established between 1099 and 1291, with permission from the Muslim authorities, by a Christian military order called the Kinghts Hospitaller. Its members vowed to care for pilgrims who came to Jerusalem to die.
“We’ve learned about the hospital from contemporary historical documents, most of which are written in Latin,” Re’em and Forestany said.
The accounts mentioned a sophisticated structure that was “as large and as organized as a modern hospital,” the archaeologists said…
The IAA report with more photos is here.
The Jerusalem Post also covers the news.