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12 December 2011
Experts stumped by ancient Jerusalem markings

Israeli archaeologists excavating in the oldest part of Jerusalem discovered a complex of rooms with three 'V' shapes and other features carved deeply into the solid stone floor. There were no other clues as to their purpose, and nothing to identity the people who made them.
     The purpose of the complex is another aspect of the mystery. There are straight lines on the walls and floors - something archaeologists see as evidence of careful engineering. The markings are also close to the city's only natural water source - the Gihon spring - suggesting they may have had an important role.
     There appears to be at least one other ancient marking of the same type at the site. A century-old map of an expedition led by the British explorer Montague Parker between 1909 and 1911, includes the shape of a 'V' drawn in an underground channel not far away. Modern archaeologists haven't excavated that area yet. Ceramic shards found in the rooms indicate they were last used around 800 BCE, with Jerusalem under the rule of Judean kings, the dig's archaeologists say. At around that time, the rooms appear to have been filled with rubble to support the construction of a defensive wall. It is unclear, however, whether they were built in the time of those kings or centuries earlier by the Canaanite residents who predated them.
     Eli Shukron, a co-director of the project that found the markings, said they were a 'little bit' mysterious. "It's something that is here on the floor in this room from the First Temple period and we don't know yet what it means," he added. The First Temple period refers to a period in the ancient city beginning in the 10th century before the Christian era (circa 1100 BCE).
     With experts unable to come up with a theory about the markings, the archaeologists posted a photo on Facebook and asked for suggestions.

Edited from 3News (7 December 2011)

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