In Antiquity Authority excavations at the heart of the Christian quarter in the Ancient City, an impressive structure from crusader times that sprawls over 3.7 acres was uncovered.

Massive halls, the uncovered hospital

Massive halls, the uncovered hospital Photography: Antiquity Authority

Excavations and research preformed by the Antiquity Authority and “Grand Bazaar” company from East Jerusalem, uncovered an ancient, around 1,000 years old, hospital in the heart of the Christian quarter in the Ancient City in Jerusalem.

The uncovered is part of a massive structure from crusader times (1099-1291 A.D), that served as a busy hospital. The structure, which is under Muslim Waqf ownership, is located in the Ancient City in an area known as Moristan (a jumbled version of the Farsi word for hospital) near David Street.

Until the beginning of the millennium, the structure was used as a busy and crowded fruit and vegetable market. Since then, it has stood deserted. Following the “Grand Bazaar” company’s intent to fit the structure for a restaurant, the Antiquity Authority started archeological digs on the site.

The structure, which only a small part of is now exposed, sprawls over around 3.7 acres. It is built out of tall central columns that support arches and vaults, and is over six meters tall. All these become a great hall that is filled with rooms and smaller halls. 

“Operated just like a modern hospital”

“Operated just like a modern hospital” Photography: Antiquity Authority

Rene Forstini and Amit Ram, managers of the excavations o behalf of the Antiquity Authority, explain that “one can learn about the massive hospital that operated on the site from historical certificates from the time, which are mainly in Latin. These, tell of a sophisticated hospital, which was no smaller in size or lesser in organization when compared to a modern hospital”.

According to them, the hospital was built and established by a religious-military called “Yohanan the saint of the hospital in Jerusalem” and in Latin “the hospitlers”.

 In the earthquake of 1457 the structure collapsed and was buried under its ruins. As such, the remains of the structure stood until the Ottoman times. Parts of it served as stables in medieval times, and in the excavations horse and camel bones were found beside a massive amount of metal chunks that were used for shoeing.