The Temple Institute: Western Wall Hill - Out; Temple Period Finds - In

 

 


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Western Wall Hill - Out; Temple Period Finds - In

reprinted with permission from Arutz Sheva
16:26 Dec 13, '04 / 1 Tevet 5765

Jerusalem city engineers will take down the hill jutting out from the Western Wall, replacing it with a bridge. Archaeologists expect to find treasures, such as a tall gate from the Second Temple.

The Jerusalem Municipality has decided to take down the hill that leads up from the Western Wall (Kotel) entrance to the Temple Mount, for fear that it might otherwise collapse. The walkway up the hill leads to the Mughrabim Gate, which is currently the only entrance for Jews to the Temple Mount. The city plans to replace the hill with a bridge that will lead into the Mughrabim Gate.

The plans are a bonanza for students of Jerusalem history, as the removal of the hill will uncover an eight-meter high gate leading into the Temple Mount. The gate, dating from the period of the Second Temple, is known as Barclay's Gate, after the 19th-century American consul who first identified it.

In addition, archaeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar told Arutz-7 today, "it's not every day that we get to excavate so close to the Western Wall. We expect to find, as we did in other excavations nearby, the Roman street alongside the Temple Mount structure, and many other treasures." She said that Barclay's Gate descends several meters below the current street level of the Western Wall plaza. "Today, only the top of its lintel can be seen [from the women's section]. It is very beautiful, and when it is uncovered it will be one of the most beautiful scenes in the Old City."

The hill in question, located to the right of the women's section when facing the Wall, is an ancient one, comprising several layers of old buildings. Dr. Mazar said that some of them may be as old as the Mamluke Period, some 700 years ago, but under them are remnants from the Second Temple Period, 2,000 years ago. "I assume that they will study these structures, and document whatever needs to be learned, but in the end, the real find lies behind them. I assume, therefore, that the authorities will remove whatever now forms the hill, so that the full glory of the Wall and the Gate can be seen... It should be a matter of months."

The entire area that is currently the Western Wall plaza was filled with low buildings when Israel liberated the area during the Six Day War of June 1967, and was later cleared away except for the area on which lies the walkway-hill leading to the Mughrabim Gate.

City engineers fear that the collapse of the hill that began last winter could continue this year, leading to a total collapse. Part of the women's section of the Western Wall plaza is already closed off for fear that worshipers below may be injured by falling rocks and earth, or by a major cave-in. The collapse began last year following a week of heavy rains, a snowstorm and an earthquake.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation launched a new website last night, providing historical information on the Western Wall and real-time photos thereof. The site's English version is scheduled to be ready on January 20. It provides historical background, Jewish sources, historic photos, Bar/Bat Mitzvah options, a virtual "tour" of the entire length of the Western Wall only a small portion of which is familiar to the public at large and educational programs, all using impressive and attractive technology.

The site also features three different real-time video views [clickable on the right side of the screen] of the goings-on at the Kotel. One camera is a wide-angle view of the entire plaza, while another one zeroes in on the prayer area. A third camera shows the Wilson's Arch area, to the left of the men's section.

 

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