Crusader Remains in the Muristan

The Muristan is located in the heart of the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. During the twelfth century CE the area was given to the Hospitaller Order of St. John

During the twelfth century CE the area was given to the Hospitaller Order of St. John, and it included the following major buildings: a hospital, ecclesiastical buildings and various large secular buildings.

During excavations at the site, remains pertaining to these architectural units were discovered, including massive piers and ashlars, displaying typical Crusader diagonal tool marks, and stones bearing mason's marks.

The meager finds from these excavations are an important contribution to the reconstruction of the Hospitaller Quarter of Jerusalem during the twelfth century CE.

The Muristan is in the heart of the Christian Quarter, directly south of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is bounded by Christian Street (the Crusader-period ‘Street of the Patriarch’) to the west, David Street on the south, Harat el-Dubbaghin on the north (the Crusader ‘Street of the Palm-Sellers’) and the bazaars to the east (the Crusader ‘Street of the Latin Gold-Smith’).

The name ‘Muristan’ is derived from the Persian and Turkish word for hospital, given by Saladin after it was taken from the Crusader knights. The earliest known remains date to the Iron Age. At that time, the Muristan was outside the city limits, with the ‘Broad Wall’ passing south of the site (Avigad and Geva 2000:45–58).

The excavations in the Muristan (Kenyon’s Site C and the Church of the Redeemer) and in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre uncovered quarries, burial caves, ceramics and other sporadic remains from that period.

Burial caves dating to the Second Temple period were found inside the Holy Sepulchre, following the tradition that identifies Golgotha with the rocky outcrop within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. These are evidence that the Muristan area, or part of it, was at that time outside the city and was used as a cemetery. The ‘Third Wall’, built by Agrippas I in the first half of the first century CE, incorporated the Muristan area within the walls. Under Roman rule, the site was near the junction between the Cardo and the Decumanus and was probably the location of the Forum.

A temple dedicated to Aphrodite and a basilica were built in its northern part; the remains of a monumental arch, probably leading to the Forum, can still be seen in the Russian Church. Various other remains from Roman times were uncovered beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulchre complex.