Archaeologists Discover Jordanian Ammunition Stash in Jerusalem's Old City

Stash found at the bottom of a British Mandate period water cistern contains magazines, bayonets and parts of a rifle

Nir Hasson
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A full magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem.
A full magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem. Credit: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority
Nir Hasson

A Jordanian ammunition stash from more than 50 years ago was discovered on Wednesday during an archaeological excavation near the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.

The stash, containing ten magazines of Bren light machine gun, bayonets and parts of a British Lee Enfield rifle, was found at the bottom of a British Mandate period water cistern. The Israel Antiquities Authority said the ammunition was apparently left there by Jordanian army forces who were stationed in the city between 1948 and .

Broken magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem.
Broken magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem.Credit: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

"Usually, in excavations, we find ancient findings from one or two thousand years ago, but this time, we got a glimpse of the events that occurred 53 years ago, frozen in time in this water cistern," said Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon, who directs the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority alongside Tehila Sadiel. "Apparently, this is an ammunition dump that was purposely hidden by soldiers of the Royal Jordanian Army during the Six-Day War, perhaps when the Israel Defense Forces liberated the Old City," he added.

The stash was discovered during excavations carried out by the Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation under the lobby of tunnels, as part of work on a new entrance to the site.

Broken magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem.
Broken magazine of Bern machine gun found by archaeologists in Jerusalem.Credit: Yoli Schwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority

The water cistern served the Moghrabi neighborhood, which was demolished soon after the Six-Day War, when Israel conquered East Jerusalem and the Old City.

Assaf Peretz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who identified the ammunition, said that based on date stamps found on the ammunition, it was produced in 1956 in the Greenwood and Batley Ltd. factory in the British city of Leeds.

About a decade ago, during west of the Western Wall, Dr. Shlomit Wexler-Bdolach discovered a water cistern where two Bern light machine guns were found. The bullets found on Wednesday match them. 

The water cistern where the ammunition was stashed in the Jerusalem Old City.
The water cistern where the ammunition was stashed in the Jerusalem Old City.Credit: The Western Wall Heritage Foundation

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