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The Burnt House

The Burnt House Museum, also known as Katros House, is a museum presenting an excavated house from the Second Temple period.

The house is located six metres below current street level in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

During the Second Temple period this area was called the Upper City extends over the Jewish and Armenian quarters and Mount Zion beyond the walls.

The neighborhood was home to high priests and of the local aristocracy who lived in large elaborate houses built on Mount Zion, also known as the “Western Hill” and over looked the Temple Mount and the Temple itself situated on Mount Moriah. 

The Burnt House, along with the Herodian Quarter and the rest of the city, set on fire during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The house, was found under a layer of ashes and destruction, indicating that the house had been burned down. It was the first evidence found of the total destruction of the city by the Romans.

Throughout the house, scattered among the collapsed walls, ceilings, and the second story, were fragments of stone tables and many ceramic, stone and metal vessels, evidence of pillaging by the Roman soldiers.

In the Burnt House, in a large layer of ash, is the weight of a broken stone with an inscription in contemporary Hebrew writing that everyone can read today. “Bar Katros”, the inscription was deciphered and interpreted as “son of Katros”. 

This was a great find since this name appears in the Talmud as the name of one of the 24 priestly families who worked in the temple during the Second Temple period.

Although the name does not appear in a positive context: ‘Woe to you from the house of Katros, woe to me from their pen’. Rashi explains that they would have written letters of abuse. Like defaming people in writing.

The ground floor of the Burnt House was exposed to reveal a house with an area of about 32 square feet. It included a small courtyard, four rooms, a kitchen and a mikvah (ritual bath).

However, the house is only part of a large complex, which could not be fully excavated and still lies under the Jewish Quarter.

In the museum, you can walk through rooms that are virtually intact with artifacts from the time of the Second Temple. 

There is also a film about the revolt against the Romans and the political strife that divided Judea’s Jewish community in the years leading up to the devastation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple.

Check out the Burnt House page for hours and ticket prices.

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