Ancient Jerusalem and Holy Places of Judaism

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Mt Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments

The most important site for Jews is the nation of Israel, especially the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the holiest city in Judaism and has been the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century B.C. The Four Holy Cities in Jewish tradition are the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed. Jew also like to seek out and visit Sage’s Tombs.

Paul Mendes-Flohr wrote in the Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices: In Judaism, as in all biblical religions, the notion of specific holy places is ambiguous. If God is the universal God of creation, it is not clear how his glory or presence can be manifest in any one place rather than another. Some rabbis regard certain places as intrinsically holy because the divine presence objectively dwells in those spaces, namely, the Land of Israel and the Temple in Jerusalem. Others view holy places as sanctified by historical association, as sites evoking certain religious memories and, therefore, emotions. [Source:Paul Mendes-Flohr Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices, 2000s,]

Among such holy places in Judaism are Mount Moriah, where Abraham bound Isaac (Gen. 22:14) and upon which, according to Jewish tradition, the Temple was built. The holiness of Mount Sinai, where God gave the Children of Israel the Torah, was limited to the time of divine revelation and subsequently has had no special status. Although the Land of Israel is regarded as the Holy Land and the Temple Mount as the most holy part of this land, some rabbis have debated what constitutes the holiness of this land and of the Temple Mount. It is significant that King Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, raised this very question: "For will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of the heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have built!" (1 Kings 8:27). As the twentieth-century theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel observed, "God has no geographical address nor a permanent residence." None-theless, after the destruction of the Second Temple, the remaining parts of its Western Wall, popularly known as the Wailing Wall, became a site of collective mourning and of the expression of messianic longing for its restoration.

Judaism also regards as holy the site in the city of Hebron where the patriarchs are said to be buried. Similarly, the tomb of Rachel, near Bethlehem, is revered as holy. Some Jewish communities regard as holy the grave sites of famed rabbis — for example, the grave at Meron in Galilee of Simeon ben Yohai, the second-century sage who figures prominently in the Mishnah and in the Zohar. Members of the Hasidic community following the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav make annual pilgrimages to his grave in the Ukrainian village of Uman.

Websites and Resources: Virtual Jewish Library ; Judaism101 ; ; Chabad,org ; BBC - Religion: Judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica,; Yivo Institute of Jewish Research ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook ; ; Jewish Museum London ; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline Jewish History Resource Center ; Center for Jewish History ; Jewish

Temple Mount

The Temple Mount in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem is perhaps the most sacred piece of real estate in the world. Known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, and known to Jews as the Temple Mount, it is a huge stone platform built by Herod the Great (73-4 B.C.) on top of Mt. Moriah, the highest point in the Old City. Sitting on top of it are the Dome of the Rock, Islam's third holiest shrine, and the al-Aqsa Mosque. The retaining wall that supports one the Temple Mount’s sides is the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest place.

In Jewish tradition, the Temple Mount is the place where God chose take his day of rest after six days of creating the universe and mankind. Jewish tradition regards the Foundation Stone on the Mounta as the location of a number of important events mentioned in the Bible, including Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac, Jacob's dream and King David’s purchase of the threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite, and was the location of the two Jewish Temples. Jewish texts say that when the Third Temple is rebuilt there the messiah will come. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer.

Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where,
Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob are buried
On the top of the Temple Mount is a large courtyard and a spacious park with Arab style gardens. Covering 35 acres, it occupies about 20 percent of the Old City and is one of the largest open spaces in Jerusalem. Within the large stone courtyard, are steps and arches and baths where Muslim faithful wash their feet and hands before they enter the dome. In this area, Arab families gather for picnics, children play soccer and groups of young people gather to chat. Around the courtyard are with tree-lined walkways and Mamluk-era buildings and shrines dedicated to David, Solomon and Jesus.

Both Jews and Muslim claim The Temple Mount. Beneath it are tunnels, cisterns, remains of the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans in the 1st century and likely some remnants of the First Temple and perhaps a secret chamber that houses the Ark of the Covenant. Some Jews regard the Temple Mount as so holy they refuse to walk on it out of fear that they may accidentally set foot on sacred or forbidden ground. Archeological excavations have not taken places out of worries by various groups that what might be found might undermine their claim on sacred ground.

Oldest Parts of Jerusalem

Based on an architectural survey of Jerusalem in the late 19th century, the oldest existing remains of Jerusalem appear to be those of the ramparts of the upper city. It was round this hill (now known to the inhabitants as Sion) that the wall of David and Solomon ran, according to Josephus (5 Wars iv. 2). It appears therefore possible that the great scarps in the present British cemetery (described under the head Hummum Tubariya) may be as old as the time of David (the eleventh century B.C.), or even earlier. [Source: “Architectural History of Jerusalem”. Charles Warren (1884): The Survey of Western Palestine]

The ancient tomb now known as that of Nicodemus, west of the rotunda of the Holy Sepulchre Church, has been proposed by Captain Conder as representing the burial-place of Solomon, David, and the more famous of the succeeding Kings of Judith, which was to be found in the 'City of David.' Captain Conder agrees with Sir Charles Warren in applying this term to the Lower City, and if the suggestion be accepted, this tomb is one of the oldest monuments in Jerusalem. We learn from the Talmud (Tosiphta Baba Bathra, c.i.) that the Tombs of the Kings were, with the sepulchre of Huldah, the only tombs inside Jerusalem; and the so-called Tomb of Nicodemus is the only ancient tomb inside modern Jerusalem, so far as has been discovered. There is no doubt that its form is that of the oldest class of Jewish tombs, and the fact that some of the kokum are sunk beneath the floor of the chamber seems to agree with Josephus' description of the Tombs of David and Solomon (7 Ant. xv. 3), which were invisible even when standing within the monument. It must, however, be noted that other writers have supposed that the Kings of Judah to have been buried on the Ophel spur south of the Temple.

The great tunnel from the upper spring to the Pool of Siloam is a third monument of Jerusalem which certainly dates earlier than the Captivity. The inscription recently discovered in this rock-cut aqueduct is supposed to date as early as the eighth century B.C., and it appears probable that this great work is referred to in the Bible in the account of Hezekiah's preparations for the Assyrian siege (2 Chron. xxxii. 4, 30), in which it is stated that the waters of the spring of Gihon were artificially diverted.

The great wall discovered by Sir Charles Warren on Ophel is another relic which appears to date at least as early as the time of Nehemiah. Nearly all authorities agree that the Wall of Nehemiah occupied this position, and that it appears to have been built on the older line of Jotham and Manasseh (2 Chron. xxvii. q; xxxiii. I4).

The rocky scarp of the Tower of Baris, with its exterior fosse, appears to have existed at least as early as the second century a.c. (i 8 Ant. xiv. 3), and is not impossibly mentioned in the Bible (Neh. ii. 8, iii. i; Zech. xiv. io; cf. r Wars iii. 3, Middoth i. q, Tamid i. r, Zebakhim xii. 3). Sir Charles Warren agrees with Sir Charles wilson in fixing this on the scarp now existing at the northwest angle of the Haram. Captain Conder follows them in this identification, and the same views were held by the Duc de Vogii6, and yet earlier by Dr. Robinson.

Another monument further south is often mentioned by De Vogue and others as the 'Egyptian Tomb' on account of its mouldings; but these mouldings are repeated on the so-called tombs of Absalom and Zechariah just noticed, and the remains of two letters, apparently of the earlier Hebrew character, have recently been observed on this tomb by. Clermont Ganneau, which might serve to class this monument as even earlier than those already noticed.

Description of Jerusalem by a Pilgrim in A.D. 333

The following are the most important notices of Jerusalem from the fourth to the twelfth centuries: The earliest description is that written by the unknown Pilgrim of Bordeaux, who was in Jerusalem in the year 333, while Constantine's Church was being built. Emperor Constantine (reigned A.D. 272-337) officially Christianized the Roman Empire.

"There are in Jerusalem two large pools beside the Temple, that is, one to the right, the other to the left, which Solomon made; but within the city are the Twin Pools, having five porches, which are called Bethsaida. There those who had been many years sick were healed, for the water of the pools is troubled as if boiling. There also is the crypt where Solomon tormented demons; and there is the corner of a very high tower where the Lord ascended, and he who tempted Him said, "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down;" and the Lord said to him, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, but Him only shalt thou serve." There is the great Stone of the Corner, of which it is said, "The stone which the builders refused is here made the head of the corner." And under the pinnacle of the same toiler are very many cells where Solomon had his palace.' There also stands the cell in which he sat and wrote about Wisdom, and this cell is roofed by a single stone.' There are also great tanks underground for voter, and pools made by peat labour. And in the enclosure itself, where was the temple which Solomon built, in the marble before the altar, the blood of Zachariah, son of Barachiah, they say, yet floors, also the marks appear of the clubs of the soldiers who slew him, all over the court, so that you mould think them printed in wax.

Temple Mount and the Western Wall

There are the two statues of Hadrian, and there is not far from the statues a pierced stone, to which coine the Jews every year and anoint it, and bewail themselves with groans, and tear their garments, and thus depart. And there is the house of Hezekiah, King of Judah. Likewise to one going out of Jerusalem, that you may go up Sion, on the left and down in the valley near the wall is the pool which is called Siloa, and it has four porches, and another great pool outside. Here a fountain runs six days and nights, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it runs not neither the whole day nor the whole night." 'Thence by the same way one goes up Sion, and the place where was the house of has the priest is seen, and the column is still there on which they scourged Christ with scourges.' Trout within, inside the wall of Sion, appears the place where David had his palace. Of the seven synagogues which were there, only one remains, for the rest have been ploughed and sown, as the prophet Isaias said.

"Thence that you may go out of the wall from Sion for one going to the Neapolitan Gate, on the right hand, down in the valley are walls, where was the house or praetorium of Pontius Pilate', where the Lord was heard before He suffered. Right on the left hand is the little Mount Golgotha', where the Lord was crucified. Thence about a stone's-throw is the crypt' where His body was placed and rose the third day. There now, by order of the Emperor Constantine, a basilica is making, that is adominicum of wonderful beauty,having beside it a tank, whence the water is drawn, and a. bath behind, where the infants are washed. 'The Sakreh Rock.' Siloam, with the old pool beneath, and an intermittent supply, as at present. 'The present site of Caiaiphas House. The so-called Tower of David.' Damascus Gate. ' Present barracks, northwest angle of Haram. ' Calvary Chapel. ' Holy Sepulchre.

Stone Sources for Ancient Jerusalem

The so-called Cotton Grotto, near the Damascus Gate, is a great quarry whence the Temple stones were obtained. It may have been used by Solomon, and was clearly in existence in the time of Herod. It is perhaps to this grotto that Josephus alludes in speaking of the ' Royal Caverns' (5 Wars iv. a) on the north side of the city. [Source: “Architectural History of Jerusalem”. Charles Warren (1884): The Survey of Western Palestine]

The architectural character of the old rock-cut monuments in the Kedron valley, opposite to the Haram, has led architectural authorities to regard these sepulchers as belonging probably to the Hasmonean period--the second century B.C. Josephus speaks of a monument of Alexander (Jannaeus) on the east of the city (5 Wars vii. 3), in a situation possibly represented by that of the Tantur Fer'on, or so-called Absalom's Pillar, which may thus perhaps be identified with the sepulcher of the Hasmonean monarch, Alexander Jannxus. Two other tombs in immediate proximity are traditionally named after St. James and Zechariah; but on the facade of the first there is a rude inscription in square Hebrew, which mentions the family of the Bene Hezir as there buried. This family of priests mentioned in the Bible (I Chron. xxiv. i5), and the date of the inscription (which is in so inaccessible a position as to have been very probably cut before the facade was completed) is held by the Duc de Vogue to be determined by the form of the characters as belonging to the century before Christ.

The great drafted masonry of the Haram walls is all of one class to the foundation (with differences of finish according to position), and it is referred by the Duc de Vogue entirely to the Herodian period. The discovery of. Phoenician letters at the base of the wall near the southeast angle does not of necessity prove that this rampart was erected by Solomon, as the character was also in use in Herod's time. Captain Conder has followed De Vogue in supposing the present ramparts to have been erected from their foundation by Herod. This question is, however, further discussed in detail on a later page.

Water Sources for Ancient Jerusalem

The great reservoir, now known as Hummum el Batrak or Hezekiah's Pool, is supposed by many authorities to be the pool Amygdalon (or 'of the towers') mentioned by Josephus (5 Wars xi. 4), apparently near Hippicus. In this case the' pool is at least as old as the Herodian period. [Source: “Architectural History of Jerusalem”. Charles Warren (1884): The Survey of Western Palestine]

The low-level aqueduct from Bethlehem was constructed by Pontius Pilate (i8 Ant. iii. 2), and this is the last. of the existing remains in and round the city which can be assigned to the period preceding the great destruction by Titus in A.D 70. For although it is agreed by nearly all authorities that the present 'Tower of David' stands on the site of one of the old Royal Towers (representing Phasaelus according to Lewin, pe Vogue, Conder, and others, or Hippicus according to Robinson and earlier authorities), the existing masonry is in part more modern. The great Tyropoeon Bridge, which existed already before Pompey's siege (63 B.C.), may be considered as part of the Haram, and the arch, now represented by a few haunch stones, is of the Herodian age. The date of the aqueduct leading into the Haram from outside the Damascus Gate is uncertain, but it has been thought to represent the narrow passage ca.llew Strato's by Josephus (13 Ant. xi. 2), and in this case the excavation is at least as old as the Hasmonean age.

20120503-Solomon Temple Jerusalem_with_Solomons_Temp.jpg
Medieval view of Jerusalem with Solomon's Temple

The remaining monuments of ancient Jerusalem, of which no traces have as yet been recognised with certainty, include the famous second ivan, commenced by Solomon, to include the lower city, and the third all, built about A.D. 40 by Agrippa, yet further north. The various theories concerning these fortifications will be mentioned later. 'The tomb of John' Hyrcanus, near the pool Amygdalon, is also unknown, and the sites of the towers of Psephinus and Marianne remain doubtful. The Monument of the Fuller, the Women's Towers, the pool Struthius, are also subjects of controversy; as is the exact position of the Holy House within the Haram area, and the extent of the Temple enclosure, with the position of its gates. Of natural features, the Dragon's Well and the Serpent's Poo1 (with the adjoining monument of Herod) are the most important remaining to be fixed, while the site of Calvary, traditionally placed within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, has been supposed by Captain Conder to be recognizable in the present cliff of Jeremiah's Grotto.

Monuments in Northern Jerusalem

North of Jerusalem is the.fine monument called generally the 'Tombs of the Kings.' Dr. Robinson has given reasons for supposing that this is the sepulcher of Helena, Queen of Adiabene, and of her sons. This monument was surmounted by three pyramids (20 Ant. iv. 3), like that on the tomb of Zechariah. Pausanias notices the rolling stone at the door (Grecia Descript. 8, I6), and later writers also mention the monument. (Euseb. Hist. Eccles. ii. i2; Jerome, Epit. Paulae, etc., etc.; cf. 'Biblical Researches,' i., pp. 363 and 610). The so-called ' Tombs of the Kings ' are still closed by a rolling stone, and parts of the surmounting pyramids have been discovered in excavating above the facade. This monument may therefore be regarded as belonging to the century before the Christian Era. A fine sarcophagus with an Aramaic inscription, stating that it held the body of Queen Sara, was discovered in this tomb by De Saulcy. [Source: “Architectural History of Jerusalem”. Charles Warren (1884): The Survey of Western Palestine]

The so-called 'Tombs of the Judges,' north-west of the preceding, are held by the Jews to be those of the chiefs of the Sanhedrin; and this tradition agrees with the architectural style of the facade in determining this system of sepulchers as belonging to the same period with the preceding--viz. the Hasmonean age.

A tomb of similar character exists on the south side of Wady Rababeh, having a frieze ornamented with rosettes and triglyphs. This monument appears to agree in position with the sepulchre of Ananus (5 Wars xii. 2), the famous high priest who lived about the time of Christ. The tomb of Simon the Just (fourth century B.C.) is shown by the Jews north of the city, but there is no evidence beyond tradition of its identity.

Hadrian-Era Constructions

The first builder whose work can be recognised after the great destruction by Titus is the Emperor Hadrian (reigned A.D. 117-138)., who rebuilt Jerusalem under the new name Aelia Capitolina in A.D 136. The walls erected by this Emperor seem probably to have followed a line closely represented by that of the present city wall, excluding great part of the high southwest hill now called Sion. This line on the south was clearly so traced when the Bordeaux Pilgrim visited Jerusalem in A.D 333., when Hadrian's walls were apparently still standing.

Hadrian erected a statue of Jupiter (still in position when seen by the Bordeaux Pilgrim) on the site of the Temple (Jerome, Comm. on Isaiah ii. 8 and on Matt. xxiv. 15), and the inscription which was cut on its base is still recognizable on a large stone built upside down into the south wall of the Haram near the Double Gate. According to Eusebius (Vita Const. iii. 26) and Jerome (Epit. xlix.), Hadrian also built a Temple of Venus on the site of the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre; but of this no remains have been recognised. A coin of Antoninus Pius represents such a temple as existing in Jerusalem. Among the other public buildings of this period were two markets, a theatre, a mint, a tricameron, a tetranymphon, and a dodekapylon ('Paschal Chronicle'), but none of these have been recognised. It is, however, supposed on architectural grounds that the so-called Ecce Homo arch was a triumphal entry (similar to that at Jerash, beyond jordan) erected by Hadrian, or by one of his immediate successors, in the A.D second century. .

The attempt of the Emperor Julian to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple in the fourth century failed entirely; in A.D. 333 the enclosure was found still in ruins by the Bordeaux Pilgrim. According to Eusebius, it would appear that a church already existed on Olivet when Helena visited the city in A.D. 326 According to Epiphanius, seven synagogues were found by Hadrian on Sion, one of which still existed in the fourth century, according to the Bordeaux Pilgrim. Epiphanius also speaks of the Sion Church (the later Coenaculum) as existing in the time of Hadrian. A cemetery of tombs in the lady Rababeh belonging to this church will be found described in a later page under the name of that valley.

It is possible that the great pool called Birket Israil was constructed at the time of the restoration of Jerusalem by Hadrian; for, although Sir Charles Warren has shown that some kind of fosse must here have existed at a very early period, there is no description of this pool in the works of Josephus, and it is very improbable that he world have omitted to mention so enormous a reservoir had it existed in hi time. He speaks only of a fosse, and the masonry of the birket is inferior in character, and resembles the later Roman work in Syria. This reservoir appears to be mentioned by the Bordeaux Pilgrim (section 4) as already existing, and would therefore most naturally be referable to Hadrian.

Constantine-Era Constructions

With the conversion of Constantine a new building epoch commences in Jerusalem. The original. Basilica of the Anastasis was completed by Constantine (reigned A.D. 272-337) in the year A.D. 335 The situation of the traditional site is described by Theodorus (A.D. 530) as being in the middle of the city. Eucherius (A.D. 427-40) places it north of Sion, and the site of Sion at this time was identical with that now shown--the hill of the old upper city. The Bordeaux Pilgrim (A.D. 333) speaks of the Basilica, which was then building, as on the left hand of a pilgrim proceeding to the Porta Neapolitana, which is generally supposed to have been the present Damascus Gate. Eusebius and Jerome (in the 'Onomasticon') also place Golgotha north of Sion. These various notices appear to indicate that Constantine's Basilica occupied the same site now shown as that of the Holy Sepulchre, close to the hill of Calvary. The view of Mr. Fergusson will, however, be mentioned later. The Duc de Vogue and Professor Willis agree in restoring the Basilica on the present site in such a manner as to make the walls and colonnade still existing east of the present church parts of the atrium and propylea, which are described by Eusebius (Vita Constant. iii. 39) as existing east of the Basilica and of the Sepulchre.

This Basilica is described by various writers of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries, and often mentioned in the Homilies of St. Cyril. it was destroyed in A.D. 614 by Chosroes II., a Sassanian King of Persia, as mentioned by the contemporary writer of the 'Paschal Chronicle.'

Other buildings existing in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries are as follows. The Church or Basilica of the Ascension, on the summit of Olivet, was already in existence in A.D. 333, but no trace of this original building has been found. The Church of the Tomb of the Virgin is mentioned by John of Damascus as existing in the time of the Empress Pulcheria (A.D. 390-450) and a Basilica is here described by Theodorus (A.D. 530). Bernard, in A.D. 867, found it in ruins--a round church without any roof. A Basilica is described in the southeast angle of the Haram as early as A.D. 530, marking the site of the so-called Cradle of Christ. Theodorus calls it St. Simeon.

In the last years of her life the Empress Eudoxia retired to Jerusalem (A.D. 450-461), and rebuilt the walls of the city. She also erected a Church of St. Stephen, north of the city, of which some traces remain. (Of. under head el Heidhemiyeh.) It was a stadium from the city wall (Evagrius Hist. Eccles. i. 22), and in or near it the Empress was buried. A tomb discovered recently in this vicinity has been thought to be possibly that of Eudoxia. The church was found in ruins by Saewulf in A.D. 1102.

Early Byzantine Structures

The following sites are also mentioned in the fifth and sixth centuries, before the Moslem conquest, which took place under Omar in A.D. 637 St. Anne (a church re-erected by the Crusaders) .is mentioned by Antony of Piacenza in A.D. 600 The Church of Gethsemane existed even in the fourth century. St. Pelagia, on Olivet {a church with the tomb of the Saint), is noticed by Theodorus in A.D. 530, and probably occupied the site of the present traditional cave of St. Pelagia. The same author speaks also of the Church of St. Peter on Sion--probably the site afterwards known as Gallicantus. Another Chapel of St. Mark, not now recognizable, seems also to have then stood on Sion.

The most important buildings of the early Christian period after the time of Constantine appear, however, to have been those of Justinian, in the Haram area, erected about A.D. 532 Theodorus was the architect, and the well-known tract describing Jerusalem in the sixth century bears his name. These buildings included the Basilica of St. Mary (cf. 'Procopius de Edificiis Justiniani,' v. 6), which stood on vaults, and was surrounded with cloisters (stoa); and also two hospitals for the sick and poor. The remains of this Basilica are recognised by the Duc de Vogue in the present mosque el Aksa, and it is possible that not only the later ornamentation of the Double Gate, but also the structure of the Golden Gate, and the roofing of many of the Haram cisterns, belong to this period, as well as the vaulting of the Twin Pools, which is similar to that of the tunnel leading to the Double Gate. In the fourth century the Twin Pools were apparently open and uncovered, though now beneath the level of the roadway.

The Basilica of Constantine, burnt in A.D. 614, was replaced in A.D. 616 by a group of small chapels or oratories erected by the Monk Modestus, afterwards Patriarch of Jerusalem. A curious plan exists, made by Arculphus about A.D. 680 , showing these chapels, one being on the supposed site of Calvary, a second over the cave of the Invention of the Cross, a third dedicated to St. Mary, west of Calvary, while the Holy Sepulchre itself stood in a rotunda, called the Martyrion. These chapels were destroyed in A.D. 1010 by order of the Fatemite Khalif Hakem. They were again replaced by little chapels (oratoria olde modica), which the Crusaders found standing, and which they incorporated in their great Cathedral (William of Tyre, Viii. 3).

Crusades Era Buildings

Among the Christian chapels already in existence when the Crusaders entered Jerusalem may be mentioned St. John on Olivet, St. Leon in the valley of Jehosaphat, the Chapels of the Agony and of the Credo on Olivet, and St. Mamilla, apparently near the present Birket Mamilla. The great Hospital of St. John was erected on the old site of Charlemagne's hospice, which is mentioned by Bernhard the Wise in A.D. 867, adjoining a Church of St, Mary' (afterwards St. Maria Majora). This building was, however, destroyed in the eleventh century. St. Maria Latina, north of the hospice, was founded by the merchants of Amalfi between A.D. 1014 and 1023, and the firman granted for its re-endowment by the Moslem ruler, Melek Muzzafer; in A.D.1023, is still preserved in the Franciscan monastery at Jerusalem. Sancta Maria Parve. adjoining this last, was added for female pilgrims, apparently also in the eleventh century (William of Tyre, ix. 18), and a hospital and chapel of St. John the Almoner adjoined this smaller church. All these buildings existed when the first Crusaders entered Jerusalem. The cemetery of Aceldama is also mentioned as early as A.D. 680, apparently at the present site (Hakk ed Dumm). This site adjoined the medieval Chaudemar, but is to be distinguished from the Charnel House of the Lion mentioned by Bernard the Wise and John of Wirtzburg, which was on the site of the present cemetery, near Birket Mamilla.

The pool of Siloam appears also to have been at one time covered by a building, which is called a church by Antony of Piacenza, about A.D. 600, and the tombs in the Jehosaphat Valley were at this time inhabited by Christian hermits.

The early pilgrims before A.D. 530 speak, as we have seen, of the Temple enclosure as in ruins. The Bordeaux Pilgrim mentions the vault and tanks, the ramparts and the 'pierced stone,' near which was Hadrian's statue. The latter is apparently the present Sakhrah rock, pierced by the shaft leading to the cave beneath. Eucherius (in the fifth century) saw only a few cisterns, and the pinna, or pinnacle, which appears to have been formed by the masonry of the south-east angle, standing many courses higher than the rest of the ancient walls.

None of the early writers speak of the Golden Gate before Justinian. Antony of Piacenza and Saewulf in 1102 are the first to describe this monument, and the latter does not carry its real history back further than the time of Heraclius (the beginning of the seventh century). Arculphus, in A.D. 680, is the first to speak of the Moslem buildings erected in the Temple Area. It appears from Eutychius (tenth century), and from the Arabic writers, Mejr ed Din and Jelal ed Din (fifteenth century), that Omar found no building over or near the Sakhrah rock. The Khalif erected a wooden building near the Rock, but this was subsequently' removed; it is to this structure that Arculphus appears to allude in describing a rude square house of prayer on the site of the Temple, raised with planks and beams on old foundations, and large enough to hold 3,000 men.

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Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook; National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, , Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated February 2024

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