Sep 16, 2013 09:16 PM EDT

Couple Unearth 2,600-Year-Old Treasure And Burial Ground Under Their Home [VIDEO & REPORT]


Hidden treasure was the last thing that Miriam and Theo Siebenberg would have expected to find underneath their house. They had already contacted the Israeli Department of Antiquities to inspect the plot of land over which they had been planning to build their home, and had been greenlighted after officials said that they found nothing.

The Siebenbergs had been planning to build a house in a section of the Jewish Quarters of Jerusalem's Old City, where archaeological finds were always popping up. At the time of construction, archaeologists were digging up artifacts everywhere in the Old City, where the Western Wall, the most holy site in Jerusalem, dating back to the temple of Solomon, is located. Theo Siedenberg said that it did not feel right, "Why wouldn't the Jews have built here then? Every inch of land near the temple must have been very valuable."

And so, he dug them up himself.

He contacted various engineers and architects and discussed his plans about excavating the underside of his home. He was then told that digging too deep would cause instability in the land and cause even his neighbors' houses to erode. His engineers then came up with a plan to build a restraining wall to secure his and his neighbors' homes. It was an expensive project, but the Siebenbergs were able to independently finance it by themselves.

The couple went treasure-hunting after the wall was built, hiring architects, engineers, labourers, architects, even donkey to assist them.

After a few months they were able to dig out a bronze key ring dating back to the times of the Second Temple. It became motivation to keep digging. Soon, they found a wall to a 2,000 year old house, two ritual Jewish baths called a mikveh, arrowheads, a Byzantine-era cistern, an and ivory writing set. Digging sixty feet further below, they discover an ancient burial site dating to the First Temple, at least 2,600 years ago.

The couple have opened their house as a museum, and visitors can come and see the excavation for themselves. The Siedenbergs have also decided that they would donate the museum and its finds to the Israelis and have currently set-up a Non-Profit Organization for it. 

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