2,100 year old cave found under Tel Aviv school
[2,100 year old cave found under high school
Students at Rogozin High School in Tel Aviv don't need to go far to get an
archeology lesson: Just a few feet under their classrooms, municipal workers
discovered ancient burial cave
History lesson at Rogozin High: While carrying out ordinary infrastructure
work on Mesilat Haolim Street in Tel Aviv, unsuspecting public works
authority employees stumbled onto a surprising archeological find. While
digging in front of the city's Rogozin High School, a massive underground
cavern opened up beneath them, that was apparently used as a burial space
during the first century BCE.
Yossi Cohen, chief archeologist of the central district, described the
subterranean space as 20 meters long by 4 meters wide and subdivided into a
central vestibule flanked by three smaller rooms, all carved into the
sandstone. According to Cohen, archeologists in the 1950s (before Rogozin
High was built) were already aware that a burial cave may be located in the
area. In 1964 the whole area was declared an official antiquities site.
Now, however, the public works authority and the Tel Aviv municipality are
hastening to seal the cave, as the infrastructure work damaged it and the
stone it was carved into has cracked. Tel
Aviv district safety staff declared that the street is in severe danger of
collapse if immediate emergency work isn't carried out to stabilize the
Laborers were working to remove the cave's ceiling and the thick layer of
dust inside, and to excavate it completely and fill it in anew. Only then
can the new road be constructed above it. "If we only fill in the exposed
part without digging the cave out in its entirety, the street will collapse
from the weight of cars and trucks," Cohen said.
According to Peter Gendelman, the senior archeologist at the site, it
appears the area of the cave extends underneath the high school. The
principal of the school, Karen Tal, said: "I very much hope they find
something interesting here and the school area becomes an attraction. But if
it is a space underneath the school which has to be filled in, I believe the
authorized officials will tell us what to do. This school has been around
for nearly 50 years, and I trust those responsible that it will continue
operating without interruption."
The Tel Aviv-Yaffo municipality stated that "the site is being examined by
the city's department for hazardous buildings, and they took out a special
warrant to fill in the cave according to the
advice and directions of land consultants and the antiquities authority.
Likewise, the state fenced in the northeastern part of the school."