When the chamber's creation likely began, the Roman-appointed King Herod the Great, who ruled the region from 37 to 4 B.C., had returned from Rome with plans to develop the Jordan Valley.
(Related: "King Herod's Tomb Unearthed Near Jerusalem, Expert Says."
The newfound site is about 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) from the ancient city of Jericho, so a quarry "makes sense in the Jordan Valley, which was then a center of activity, agriculture, and building," Zertal said in June 2009.
During their recent excavation (pictured), archaeologists found recesses in the columns where people placed oil lamps to provide light, as well as holes through which leashes for work animals could have been tied. The chamber's run as a quarry likely lasted for about 400 to 500 years.
Photograph courtesy Moshe Einav, University of Haifa