Archaeologists in Jerusalem say they may have uncovered the remains of Herod the Great's palace, the site where the trial of Jesus Christ may have taken place prior to his crucifixion.
The Washington Post reports that the remains are being opened to the public through tours organized by the Tower of David Museum, which is located close to the site. According to the paper, the remains of the palace were uncovered more than a decade ago by archaeologists who had been excavating an abandoned prison adjacent to the museum as part of a planned expansion.
Archaeologist Amit Re'em told the paper that among the uncovered remains were foundation walls and an underground sewage system that likely supported the palace.
Historians and archaeologists say there's little doubt that Herod's palace was located on the western side of Jerusalem's Old City, near the present-day museum. But the question of whether Jesus was actually examined there by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate remains a contentious one.
The confusion stems from various interpretations of the four New Testament Gospels, all of which describe the trial of Jesus. Supporters of Herod's palace as the site point to the Gospel of John, which describes the trial as having taken place near a gate and on a stone pavement, details that would match archaeological interpretations of the site.
Others say that the Gospels' use of the Latin word "praetorium," or a general's tent in a military encampment, to describe the location of the trial is a clue that points to the Antonia Fortress, located in the northeastern part of the city near the Temple Mount.
The Rev. David Pileggi, an Anglican minister whose Christ Church is near the Tower of David, told the Post that the recent discoveries confirm in his mind that Jesus was taken to Herod's Palace before beginning his final journey to the crucifixion site at Golgotha.
"[This is] what everyone expected all along," he said, "that the trial took place near the Tower of David."