Sing: To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord, UMH 285
During the construction of the Ecce Homo Convent in 1857, the stone pavement from Aelia Capitolina’s eastern marketplace plaza and Hadrian’s victory arch was uncovered. Some think that this stone pavement is what is mentioned in John 19:13. The Greek word “lithostrotos” means “stone pavement” like the Aramaic word “gabbatha.” These paving stones were not laid here until 100 years after Jesus’ trial before Pilate. But it is possible that these paving stones were moved here from somewhere else in the city.
Below that stone pavement a large cistern (about 180’ x 50’ x 15’ deep) cut from bedrock was found. This was once an open pool that Hadrian had vaulted so that his market plaza could be built over it. The name “Struthion” means “sparrow” in Hebrew. This pool was part of a chain of reservoirs providing water for the citizens of Jerusalem.
The pavement over the Struthion Pool also stretches to the east toward the Antonia Fortress. This vast military garrison was built by Herod the Great and named in honor of his patron Mark Antony. The fortress was built against the northern wall of the Temple Mount and rose above it, giving the Roman troops a commanding view of the Temple Mount and putting them in a position to quickly quell any trouble around the temple.
Part of the site of the Antonia Fortress is now occupied by the Al-Omariya Madrasa, a school for Muslim boys and men. Many people recognize this school as the site where Pilate condemned Jesus to be crucified and thus the first of the fourteen stations of the Via Dolorosa. Others say that it is more likely that Jesus was taken to Pilate’s palace which was on the other side of the city near what today is called the Citadel of Jerusalem.