A 2,000-year-old pyramid-shaped staircase made from large ashlar stones has been uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) on a street in the City of David, next to the destroyed Second Temple.
The structure was found during an excavation of an ancient roadway rising from the Siloam Pool to the Temple Mount, which was carried out in tandem with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation, according to the Jerusalem Post.
According to archaeologists Nahshon Szanton and Dr Joe Uziel, who supervised the excavation on behalf of the IAA, such a finding in the area is unprecedented.
"The structure exposed is unique," the archaeologists said in a joint statement. "To date, such a structure has yet to be found along the stepped street in the numerous excavations that have taken place in Jerusalem, and to the best of our knowledge, outside of it."
For this reason, they stated, its precise use "remains enigmatic."
"Given the lack of a clear archaeological parallel to the stepped-structure, the purpose of the staircase remains a mystery," they said, noting that the structure is built along the street at a point that is visible from afar by passers-by walking to the Temple.
"We believe the structure was a kind of monumental podium that attracted the public's attention when walking on the city's main street. It would be very interesting to know what was said there 2,000 years ago. Were messages announced here on behalf of the government? Perhaps news or gossip, or admonitions and street preaching? Unfortunately we do not know."