A huge 1,700 year old cistern in Jerusalem was apparently the site of some good ol’ tagging courtesy of a couple of Australian soldiers during their tour in the Second World War. The graffiti was discovered during the excavation and construction of a highway system through the area.
“During the course of the excavation the archaeologists were surprised to discover some contemporary yet intriguing finds: graffiti engraved on the ceiling of the cistern indicating the place had been exposed until the 1940’s. The inscriptions were read by Assaf Peretz, an archaeologist and historian with the Israel Antiquities Authority, who said, “Among other things, two English names were identified that are carved in the rock: Cpl Scarlett and Walsh. Next to the names are carved the initials RAE and two numbers – NX7792 and NX9168. The date 30/05/1940 appears below the graffiti.”
The two soldiers were Royal Australian Engineers and both survived the war. Corporal Philip William Scarlett died in 1970 when he was just 52, and Patrick Raphael Walk died in 2005 at 95.
There is currently a request from the Israel Antiquities Authority to modify the highway plans to preserve the site and keep it as part of the permanent landscape.