Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli archaeologists said Wednesday they were trying to uncover the meaning of a newly discovered handprint carved into the stone wall of an ancient moat outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
The footprint, which may be a ‘prank’, was found in a thousand-year-old ditch exposed during road expansion works in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem near Herod’s Gate, said the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The massive moat was dug into stone around the entire old town, spanning 10 meters (33 ft) in diameter and between two to seven meters in depth and, unlike typical European moats, not filled with water.
According to the IAA, the Crusaders in 1099 needed five weeks to cross it and break through the walls and defenses of the city.
While the function of the ditch was clear, the significance of the hand was elusive.
“It’s a mystery, we have tried to solve it,” IAA excavation director Zubair Adawi said in a statement.
IAA archaeologists remained uncertain who carved the hand in rock or its significance.
The moat and the main have in the meantime been covered over to allow infrastructural work to continue just below the walls that currently surround the city, built in the 16th century by Suleiman the Magnificent.
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