June 3, 2011

I'm struggling

I'm struggling with organizing all of my photos and deciding what to talk about. Also a friend on the trip took A LOT more pictures and i'm waiting to get them from her. So that's why i've been so slow in posting.

But we shall try and forge ahead.

Today I'll show you the Double and Triple Gates on the Southern wall of the Old City. I was very excited for this area as it is one of the few places in the Old City that is not traditional.

Real quick. Here is a map of the gates. Hopefully it will help you visualize things a bit better. There are a lot of gates.

  1. the Damascus Gate
  2. Herod's Gate
  3. the Lions' Gate
  4. the Dung Gate
  5. the Zion Gate
  6. the Jaffa Gate
  7. the New Gate
  8. the Golden Gate
  9. the Single Gate
  10. the Triple Gate (Eastern Huldah Gate)
  11. the Double Gate (Western Huldah Gate)

To get to theses two gates (10 and 11 on the map) you have to enter through the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. They have done an amazing job restoring this area. The park was very cool.
This is a much newer chunk of the wall with ruins and an example of a rock slinger :-) The glass wall in the back is the main building of the park. They built it right into the ruins. Very cool

When you walk in you see this straight ahead.

The Western and Southern Wall Excavations in this area were a historical gold mine for Israeli archaeologists in the 1970s and '80s. The most monumental finds were from the Herodian period, the late 1st century BC.
This is where Herod the Great rebuilt the Second Temple on the exact site of Solomon's Temple (First Temple period), where the Dome of the Rock now stands. He expanded the sacred enclosure by constructing a massive, shoebox-shaped retaining wall on the slopes of the hill, the biblical Mt. Moriah. The inside was filled with thousands of tons of rubble to create the huge plaza, the size of 21 football fields, still known today as the Temple Mount. The great stones near the corner, with their signature precision-cut borders, are not held together with mortar; their sheer weight gives the structure its stability. The original wall would have been at least one-third higher than it is today.

If you turn to the left you will see where they have uncovered an impressive main street and commercial area from the Second Temple or Herodian period. You can see where the street is and to the left is where the shops would of been.
The square-cut building stones heaped on the street came from the top of the original wall. And you can see how hard those stones hit, cracking the street. This damage is from the Roman invasion in ad 70. The Romans toppled the wall and destroyed the temple. This rock below is called the Trumpeting Stone. It was situated in the southwest corner and the priest would stand in that corner you can see and blow the trumpet, signaling the beginning and end of Shabbat and festivals. There is an incomplete inscription in Hebrew reading "of the place of trumpeting".

In the first photo of the street you can see how the street ends in the hill there. Israel decided to stop excavating because the Muslims threw a huge fit, saying that the Jews were tunneling under the mosque and trying to destroy it. It was huge in the news years back. It took forever, but some journalists finally went to the dig to see what was happening and saw that they weren't doing any damage and that it was all blown out of proportion. But Israel still decided to back off for now.

If you had walked straight when you first came into the park you would pass through a new section of the city wall by a small arched gate.

And you come out here:
If you look to the left in this image you will see half an arch in the wall. For some reason somebody built another wall coming straight in and splitting the arch in half.
No clue why. I'm pretty sure it was explained...but my brain was already on information overload at that point. I also think it's interesting to see all the different types of stone where the wall was fixed over a couple thousand years. The Herodian stones are at the bottom. You can always tell which ones are Herodian because they are beveled around the edges. Like this:

This area is called the Ophel. The broad stretch of steps are mostly original, which I loved.
Here is the pic again so you don't have to scroll up. Aren't i thoughtful?!?! I know.

These are the same steps that hordes of Jewish pilgrims would climb to reach the temple, to pay tribute. They would've gone through these now-blocked southern gates of the Temple Mount.

The ritual baths near the bottom of the steps were used for purification. All male Jews had to take a ritual bath before they entered the temple. They would bathe and then walk up the steps to the Temple Mount. There they would exchange money for special temple money and then buy an animal sacrifice with that. Then they would take the sacrifice further into the temple area to the priest who would take it into another area to be burned.
If you look really close at the 2nd and 3rd steps from the bottom you can see a line of stone dividing the steps in half. You would enter unclean down one side and come back out clean up the other side.

This is our group being taught all sorts of amazing things at the top of the steps.

This is Dixie and me standing on an original rock at the arched entrance from the time of Christ. Again, one of the very few places that they can definitively say is from that time. If He ever walked up these stairs to the temple He would've stood in this same place. Kinda cool :-)

- Observation. It's interesting that hordes of people flock to a slab of rock that they think Christ was laid out on after His death (and the slab has only been in there in the church for 400 years...) to pray and get stuff blessed..but there was no one up at this rock that is actually from the time of Christ. Just interesting.

This is looking east down the southern wall towards Mt. Olivet.
The steps would've stretched the entire length.

This is looking south from the Ophel steps towards The City of David. A city has been in that same spot forever. 1000 BC and older it was a Canaanite and then Jebusite city. It was conquered by King David and became The City Of David. Jerusalem and Solomon's temple were then built up on the hill above The City of David.

It was just so interesting. I mean I'm no Bible scholar but i know the stories. It was so cool to see where they actually happened and see the massive amount of history that took place in such a small area. To walk where people walked 2000 years ago. To touch walls and carvings that hands touched 3000 years ago. I was truly in awe the entire time.

Does your brain hurt? Mine does from trying to remember everything i learned! Don't you worry. There's more to come!


Sue said...

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing. Keep it coming.

karla said...

I love history....so sorry I didn,t go. Keep the posts coming - I love it.

Debby said...

Wowser! This is very neat stuff. I can't wait to hear more about it. Don't you wish that you had a tape recorder to record all the stories and anecdotes? I often feel like I've missed it all, somehow, even though I was standing right there and listening intently.

Kate said...

Debby - Yes! I really wish i would've taken a recorder. I really can't remember half of what i learned and I was really paying attention.

Mom - i'm sad you weren't there too! But sooo glad that you and Dad when to Hawaii instead :-)

Aunt Susie - Love you!