Archaeological News from the Holy Land

Examine four beautifully carved, monumental stone fragments from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Made Possible by the Pritzker Foundation

imageThe Temple and the Temple Mount served as a focal point for Jewish religious ceremonies from around 1,000 BC until 66 AD, when the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. These four artifacts are from the time of King Herod the Great, who in 37 BC embarked on a massive building campaign to enlarge and improve both the Temple and the Mount where it stood. According to historical accounts, Herod’s Temple Mount was a massive and magnificent complex of buildings, one of the most impressive in the ancient Mediterranean world.

The fragments in this exhibition were originally part of the Royal Stoa. The high craftsmanship and design motifs of the artifacts confirm the grandeur of the Royal Stoa, as well as the strong influence of the Greco-Roman style of architecture. These fragments have helped archaeologists reconstruct the historical site and understand more about the time period.

Archaeological News from the Holy Land is an annual exhibition of archaeological objects from the collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority to museums in the U.S.

It is made possible by a gift from the Pritzker Foundation to the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The exhibition is another step in our efforts to bring the archaeology of the Holy Land to people throughout the world

The Temple Mount throughout History

The First Jewish Temple Was Built 3000 Years Ago

About the year 1000 BC, the First Temple was built in Jerusalem by King Solomon to house the Ark of the Covenant and to serve as a focal point for Jewish religious ceremonies. After standing for more than 400 years, Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 586 BC by an invading army led by Nebachadnezzar, King of Babylon; subsequently, the citizens of Judea and Israel were exiled to Babylon (in modern day Iraq). Upon their release by Cyrus the Great, around 500 BC, the Israelites rebuilt the Temple under the leadership of the High Priest, Zerubbabel. This structure, known as the “Second Temple,” stood for almost 600 years until King Herod the Great came to power.

Herod the Great Expanded the Second Temple

In 37 BC, King Herod embarked on a massive building campaign to enlarge and improve both the Second Temple and the Mount where it stood. Though still considered the “Second Temple” by Jewish tradition, Herod’s redesigned and rebuilt structure is often referred to by scholars as “Herod’s Temple” to distinguish it from Zerubbabel’s earlier temple. According to historical accounts, Herod’s Temple Mount was a massive and magnificent complex of buildings, one of the most impressive in the ancient Mediterranean world.

The Temple Mount’s Many Transformations

Herod’s Temple complex stood for nearly 100 years, until it was completely destroyed by Roman legions under the command of Titus. Since the time of the Temple’s destruction, the Temple Mount has gone through several transformations as successive waves of conquerors have left their marks upon the site. Today, the summit of the Temple Mount is famous for the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosques. Also famous is the “Western Wall,” a portion of the Temple Mount’s retaining wall revered by Jews.

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