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New Discovery: 1,000-Year-Old Crusader building in Jerusalem

August 7, 2013
1,000-year-old hospital found in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (Yoli Shwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority).

1,000-year-old hospital found in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem (Yoli Shwartz / Israel
Antiquities Authority).

An exciting new archaeological discovery in the Christian section of the Old City in Jerusalem – a 1,000-year-old Crusader era hospital.  According to Sci-News:

“The structure seems to extend across an area of 15,000 square meters. Its construction is characterized by massive pillars and ribbed vaults, and it stands more than 6 meters high.”

“We have learned about the hospital from contemporary historical documents, most of which are written in Latin. These mention a sophisticated hospital that is as large and as organized as a modern hospital,” explained excavation directors Dr Renee Forestany and Dr Amit Reem from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“The hospital was established and constructed by a Christian military order named the Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem and known by its Latin name the Hospitallers from the word hospital. These righteous warriors took an oath to care for and watch over pilgrims, and when necessary they joined the ranks of the fighters as an elite unit.”

The hospital was comprised of different wings and departments according to the nature of the illness and the condition of the patient – similar to a modern hospital. In an emergency situation the hospital could accept as many as 2,000 patients.

A vaulted room in the recently uncovered Crusader hospital in Jerusalem's Old City (photo credit: Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)

A vaulted room in the recently uncovered Crusader hospital in Jerusalem’s Old City (photo credit: Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority)

The Times of Israel has additional details:

Despite the grandeur of the building, the knights used the primitive methods that were typical of their time. There is an account of a patient’s foot being amputated for a minor infection, a procedure that ended up killing the woman. The knights were able to gain medical knowledge from the local Arab population, which placed a premium on medical expertise.

The building also served as an orphanage. Cowled mothers would leave unwanted children at the door, often a baby from a mother who had given birth to twins but couldn’t care for both children. When the male babies reached adulthood, they would join the Hospitallers.

After legendary Kurdish warrior Salah al-Din captured Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187, he built a palace near the hospital. He renovated the building, and allowed 10 Christian monks to stay in the hospital to serve the local population.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 7, 2013 9:06 AM

    Awesome find!

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