The Umayyad Temple Mount

imageThe Umayyad Temple Mount, Jerusalem, c. 747 CE

A real-time visual simulation model of the Umayyad Temple Mount developed jointly by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA is now available to see in the Davidson Center in Jerusalem.

imageIn 2001, the Ethan and Marla Davidson Exhibition and Virtual Reconstruction Center in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park was opened to the public. The Center's interactive classroom features a real-time visual simulation model of the Herodian Temple Mount developed jointly by the Urban Simulation Team at UCLA and the Israel Antiquities Authority. In 2006, a second classroom was dedicated and in 2007 an expanded version of the simulation model was unveiled that includes a reconstruction of the early Islamic structures on and around the Temple Mount.

After touring through museum rooms displaying the history of the Temple Mount complex and seeing a short high-definition digital movie on the site as a pilgrimage destination, visitors to the Center have the opportunity to explore the real-time models in the center's interactive classrooms with an archaeologist guide. The Herodian version of the model shows visitors how excavators believe the Temple Mount site appeared prior to its destruction by Roman troops in the year 70 CE. The focus is on the southern portion of the enclosure, and includes reconstructions of Robinson's Arch (an early overpass linking the top of the platform with the major city street below), the Hulda Street gates and passages onto the platform, the Royal Stoa, and the Second Temple. The reconstruction is based on the excavations at the Temple Mount under the direction of Ronny Reich and regional archeologist Gideon Avni.

imageThe Umayyad version of the model shows the site as excavators believe it appeared just prior to a major earthquake that hit the city in 749 CE. During the Umayyad period, Jerusalem enjoyed an extensive building campaign by Caliph 'Abd al-Malik ibn al-Marwan and his son Al-Walid. The Dome of the Rock and the Al- Aqsa Mosque were constructed during this period. The focus of the model is on the two large buildings south of the Temple Mount platform and the north/south Cardo. The reconstruction is based on the excavations at
the Temple Mount under the direction of Yuval
Baruch, Jerusalem District Archaeologist.

It is through the work of the Israel Antiquities Authority, custodian of more than 30,000 archaeological sites and millions of objects representing the largest collection of Biblical and Israeli archaeology in the world, that the heritage of Israel’s material culture, outlining the history of the people that inhabited the land over the past 5,000 years, is excavated, researched, exhibited and preserved for all mankind.

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