Monday, December 04, 2017

Detective work on 1970s Temple archaeology

TEMPLE MOUNT WATCH: Temple Mount Riddles Resolved by Tens of Thousands of Tiny Pieces. The monumental buildings on Temple Mount, Jerusalem turn out to have been decorated chiefly with images of plants and geometric forms, patient researcher finds (Nir Hasson, Haaretz).
What did the Temple Mount compound look like over 2,000 years ago? How were its buildings decorated? The literature and the archaeology do not always coincide, but new research may have put some of the questions to rest. Including the enigma of who built a set of subterranean domes. Who completed the construction however will have to remain a mystery for now.

Much of what we know, or think we know, comes from the 1st century C.E. traitor-cum-historian Josephus Flavius, who devoted a section in one of his books to the Mount and the temple itself, which is associated with the massive construction drive by the Roman vassal king of the Jews, Herod. And we also have some knowledge from archaeological research.


A recent new study by Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Hebrew University archaeology department reexamined Josephus’ text in comparison with archaeological finds from Temple Mount digs in the 1970s. Focusing on fragments of decoration found from the time, she extrapolates to the construction of the buildings, and does propose answers to some questions – including that issue of the 162 columns that don’t divide by four. She also raises new questions too.

For the coin evidence that the Temple platform was completed after Herod's time, see here. For the second Arch of Titus, see here.

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