Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Jersusalem: Archaeological remains point to exact location of Second Temple

While scholars have put forth various assessments for the location of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor says that archaeological remains that have so far been ignored by scholars point to the exact location, which is in a spot that differs from prevailing opinion.

Small Drawing shows Professor Patrich's description of the location of the Temple compound

The location identified by Professor Joseph Patrich of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology places the Temple and its corresponding courtyards, chambers and gates in a more southeasterly and diagonal frame of reference than have earlier scholars.

In spotting the Temple in this way, Patrich concludes that the rock, over which the Dome of the Rock mosque was built in the 7th century C.E. is outside the confines of the Temple. The rock is considered by Moslems to be the spot from which Muhammad ascended to heaven and for Jews the place at which the binding of Isaac took place.

Major General Sir Charles William Wilson,  K.C.B., K.C.M.G., F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D., M.E. 1836-1905

Patrich basis his proposal on a study of a large underground cistern on the Temple Mount that was mapped by British engineer Sir Charles Wilson (left) in 1866 on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund.

The giant cistern, 4.5 meters wide and 54 meters long, lay near the southeastern corner of the upper platform of the Temple Mount. It had a southeasterly orientation with branches extending north and south

Examining the location and configuration of the cistern together with descriptions of the daily rite in the Temple and its surroundings found in the Mishna (the Rabbinic Oral Tradition compiled in the 3rd century C.E.), Patrich has demonstrated that this cistern is the only one found on the Temple Mount that can tie in with the Mishna text describing elements involved in the daily purification and sacrificial duties carried out by the priests on the altar in the Temple courtyard.

On this basis, he says, one can "reconstruct" the placement of the laver (a large basin) that was used by the priests for their ritual washing, with the water being drawn by a waterwheel mechanism from the cistern. After this purification, the priests ascended the nearby ramp to the sacrificial altar. By thus locating the laver, the water wheel, the ramp and the altar, one can then finally map, again in coordination with the Mishna, the alignment of the Temple itself and its gates and chambers.

All of these considerations have led Patrich to come up with a diagram of the Temple and its surroundings that place the Temple further to the east and south than earlier thought and at a southeasterly angle relative to the eastern wall of the Temple Mount, and not perpendicular to it, as earlier assumed. It is this placement which also leaves the rock in the Dome of the Rock outside of the Temple confines (see attached drawings and caption).

Professor Patrich stressed that his research concerning the location of the Temple is strictly academic in nature, and that political connotations should not be attributed to it.

Large Drawing shows Professor Patrich's description of the location of the Temple compound (Evolution Research: John Latter / Jorolat)

Caption: Drawing shows Professor Patrich's description of the location of the Temple compound (the rectangle defined by a solid line in the center of the drawing). The cistern upon which he basis his research is shown by a dotted line within the rectangle. The Dome of the Rock (octagonal structure) is seen in the lower left hand corner of the Temple compound. Note that given this alignment, the rock in the center of the Dome of the Rock is seen as outside the area of the Temple Compound. Credit: Drawing by Leen Ritmeyer

Source: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Press Release 08 February, 2007


Video depicting how King Solomon's Temple may have looked:


Joseph Patrich is author of "Reconstructing the Magnificent Temple Herod Built" (Bible Review IV/5, pp. 16-29). Excerpt:

..The Babylonians "exiled all of Jerusalem [to Babylon]: all the commanders and all the warriors - ten thousand exiles - as well as all the craftsmen and smiths; only the poorest people in the land were left" (2 Kings 24:14).

Then in 539 B.C., in the first year of the reign of King Cyrus of Persia, an edict was issued by the king:

"All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord God of heaven has given me. And he has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah" (Ezra 1:2).

"King Cyrus also brought out the articles of the house of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem … thirty gold platters, one thousand silver platters, twenty-nine knives, thirty gold basins, four hundred and ten silver basins … and one thousand other articles" (Ezra 1:7, 9, 10).

According to the Bible, there were successive waves of repatriations of Jews under Persian rule. The first was led by Sheshbazzar, the son of King Jehoiachin, who had been taken into captivity in 597 B.C. This first return, marking the beginning of a new era in the history of Israel - the Second Temple period - occurred not long after 539 B.C., when Cyrus issued his decree to start rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. Sheshbazzar was entrusted with the Temple vessels (Ezra 1:7, 5:14 - 15) and is reported to have laid the foundation for the rebuilt Temple (Ezra 5:16). The actual work of rebuilding the Temple, however, remained uncompleted.

A major wave of returning exiles was then led by Zerubbabel, grandson of Jehoiachin, and by the priest Joshua/Jehoshua, apparently during the early years of the administration of the Persian king Darius (522 - 486 B.C.). In the second year of Darius's reign, Zerubbabel and Joshua established an altar on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and began their work of Temple construction.

"The house [Temple] was finished on the third of the month of Adar in the sixth year [516/5 B.C.] of the reign of King Darius. The Israelites, the priests, and the Levites, and all the other exiles celebrated the dedication of the House of God with joy" (Ezra 6:15 - 16)..


Recent posts include:

"Earliest Semitic text revealed in Egyptian pyramid inscription"

"Ruins in Northern Syria Bear the Scars of a City's Final Battle"

"Great Pyramids Of Giza - Building Blocks Made Of Concrete?"

"Antikythera: Enigma of Ancient Computer Resolved At Last"

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For clarification on my position re the Temple location, please look at my blog:
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