See Kathleen and Leen Ritmeyer, “Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” BAR 15:06.


The Mishnah is the collection of Jewish oral laws compiled and written down by Rabbi Judah the Prince in about 200 A.D.


An ashlar is a rectangular block of hewn stone.


Warren observed this slight bend with his surveying instruments. Presumably it could be confirmed by remeasurement today. However, for political reasons, it is not feasible to undertake this exercise now.


John C. Laughlin, “The Remarkable Discoveries at Tel Dan,” BAR 07:05.


This direct entrance was probably the forerunner of the Triple Gate in the southern wall of the present Temple Mount.


Stretchers are laid lengthwise in the wall, the long side facing out. Headers are laid with the shots side facing out. In “header and stretcher” construction, headers and stretchers alternate. This gives a wall much greater strength, especially where needed at corners.


The Double and Triple Gates on the southern wall of the Herodian Temple Mount that can still be identified are frequently, but incorrectly, referred to as the Huldah Gates. The Huldah Gates mentioned in Middot 2:1 were located in the southern wall of the original square Temple Mount.


Kathleen and Leen Ritmeyer, “Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount in Jerusalem,” BAR 15:06.



Josephus, The Jewish War 1.21.1.


Charles Wilson and Charles Warren, Recovery of Jerusalem (London: Bentley, 1871), chap. 7, “Tanks and Souterrains of the Sanctuary,” pp. 204–217.


Jan Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1952), p. 355.


Wilson and Warren, Recovery of Jerusalem, pp. 209–213.


Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, etc., showing the results of the Excavations at Jerusalem, 1867–1870, executed for Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) (London: PEF, 1884), Pls. VI, VII.


Biblical Archaeology Today, Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, April 1984, ed. Janet Amitai (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society [IES], 1985), p. 484.


Warren and Claude Conder, Survey of Western Palestine, Jerusalem (London: PEF, 1884), p. 21S. See also, Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, etc., Plate XII, Section O-R.


Strabo, Geography 16.40.


This small valley was called St. Anne’s Valley by Wilson, Chaphenatha Valley by Conrad Schick (Die Stiftshutte, Tf. 4) and more recently the Beth Zetha Valley by Dan Bahat (Carta’s Historical Atlas of Jerusalem [Jerusalem: Carta, 1983], p. 11).


Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.2.


See Bahat, Carta’s Historical Atlas, pp. 55, 61.


Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, etc., Plates II and VI.


Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 14.4.2.


See George A. Smith, Jerusalem, From the Earliest Times to A.D. 70 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1908), vol. 2, p. 588, n. 3: 20.67 inches = sacred cubit. See also Arye Ben David, “The Hebrew-Phoenician Cubit,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly (PEQ) (1970), pp. 27–28: the Philaeterian-Ptolemaic cubit = 525 mm (20.67 inches). Joachim Jeremias (Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus [London: SCM, 1969], p. 11) defines the Philaeterian Cubit as equal to 525 mm, or almost 21 inches. He quotes Didymus (end of first century A.D.) “who calculates the Egyptian cubit of Roman times as 1 ½ Ptolemaic feet.” As this foot was 350 mm long, the cubit was 1.5 × 350 = 525 mm. David Ussishkin, “The Original Length of the Siloam Tunnel,” Levant 8 (1976), pp. 82–95: cubit = 52.5 cm (= 20.67 inches). Cf. Asher S. Kaufman, “Determining the Length of the Medium Cubit,” PEQ 116 (1984), p. 131. Kaufman is close, but his measurement is not exact (20.319 inches instead of 20.66925). My own research has shown that 500 cubits of 20.67 inches equals exactly the distance from the step to the eastern wall, and therefore I believe that this was the cubit used for laying our the 500-cubit-square Temple Mount.

This cubit originated in Egypt and is also called the Egyptian long cubit; the short cubit was only 450 mm long. The long cubit is also known as the royal cubit, and had been in use since the 15th century B.C. This cubit rarer became known as the Philaeterian cubit, after the family name of the kings of Pergamum.


Warren and Conder, Survey of Western Palestine, p. 146: “[T]he general direction of the east wall with south wall, as determined by the Survey, is 92 degrees 50 minutes. The eastern wall is somewhat irregular, the first 120 feet only being in a straight line; beyond this are several bulges, but it is probable that below the surface the first 26O feet of wall are in a straight line. At this point there is a small postern on about the same level as the Single Gate on the south side. From this postern the wall takes a slight bend to north-east, so that at 650 feet from south-east angle it is about 8 feet to east of a line in production of first 260 feet.” Simons also noted this bend to the northeast, and corrected its location to 240 feet from the southeast corner (Jerusalem in the Old Testament, p. 370): “The first section of the [east] wall, from the same [S.E.] angle to a point 73.20 meters [= 240 feet] to the north, is practically straight but at this point it hends slightly outward, to the north-east, so that after 200 meters [= 650 feet] it is already 2.5 meters [= 8 feet] outside the line of the southern section.”


Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12.6.7.


See Yoram Tsafrir, “The Location of the Seleucid Akra in Jerusalem,” in Jerusalem Revealed, ed. Yigael Yadin (Jerusalem: IES, 1975), pp. 85–86. More recently, Gregory J. Wightman, “Temple Fortresses in Jerusalem, Part 1: The Ptolemaic and Seleucid Areas,” Bulletin of Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 9 (1989–1990), pp. 29–40.


Josephus, The Jewish War 1.1.4.


Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12.9.3.


Tsafrir (“Location of the Seleucid Akra,” pp. 85–86) accepts the southeastern hill of Jerusalem for the location of the Akra and correctly places it to the south of the Temple, indeed close to our suggested location. We prefer, however, to place the Akra near the center of the southern Temple Mount wall, above cistern 11, from which it would have been easier to control the ciry and the southern access to the Temple Mount, and not near the southeast corner, as Tsafrir suggests. It would have been better to construct a fortress that could overlook the Temple Mount at the summit of the southeastern hill, rather than on the much lower slopes near the southeastern corner. Tsafrir’s suggestion of identifying the masonry to the north of the “straight joint” in the eastern wall with the foundation of the Akra contradicts the statement of Josephus that the Akra was razed to the ground; it seems more logical to identify this stretch of Hellenistic masonry with the enlargement of the Temple Mount during the Hasmonean period.


Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 14.16.2) relates that when Herod, after he was made king, took Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, “the cloisters that were about the Temple were burnt.”


I would like to thank Dr. Rupert Chapman, secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and Shimon Gibson, the photographic officer, for their help and cooperation in obtaining a copy of Simpson’s painting of the “Great Sea.”


In his recently published book, Mamluk Jerusalem, Michael Burgoyne has identified a 4-meter wide Herodian wall running east-west along the southern edge of the Antonia rock plateau. This wall, the southern wall of the Antonia fortress, is in line with the preserved northeast corner of the Temple Mount.


Although the underground passageway originally leading to it from the inside was still used by the priests (see further, endnote 30).


Father Pierre Benoit, O.P. “The Archaeological Reconstruction of the Antonia Fortress,” in Yadin, Jerusalem Revealed, pp. 87–89.


Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, etc., Pl. XXXII.


Josephus, The Jewish War 5.51: “At first the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar, for the ground about it was very uneven, and like a precipice.”


The most famous of these is Asher Kaufman’s. See his article “Where the Ancient Temple of Jerusalem Stood,” BAR 09:02. Kaufman places the Temple over a small monument known as the Dome of the Tablets, northwest of es-Sakhra. Kaufman’s suggestion has tecently been supported by Lawrence D. Sporty (Biblical Archaeologist, March 1991, pp. 28–35). Kaufman’s theoretical location of the Temple over the Dome of the Tablets has several weaknesses: 1. He completely ignores the most important topographical data of the area north of the Muslim Platform—(1) the fosse, or moat, observed by Warren, (2) the Bezetha Valley to the east of this moat and (3) the rock scarp under the northern edge of the Muslim Platform. The northern court of Kaufman’s Temple would fall into the Bezetha valley! Near the eastern wall, this valley is 160 feet lower than the es-Sakhra! 2. The floor under the Dome of the Tablets, where Kaufman located the Temple, is a stone—apparently a large paving slab or other stone in secondary use and not bedrock. Bedrock is at least 8 feet below the floor of this small monument. Thus, this location is by no means the top of the hill, as Josephus described the Temple’s location. 3. Es-Sakhra, by contrast, is about 15 feet higher than Kaufman’s location for the Temple. On this point alone, his theory is untenable. 4. His interpretations of the bedrock formations near the northwest corner of the Muslim Platform are highly dubious. Moreover, he failed to recognize the most important remains in this area: the step/wall, which is crucial in identifying and defining the square Temple Mount.


For the other theories, see Melchior de Vogue, Le Témple de Jerusalem (Paris, 1864); James Fergusson, The Temples of the Jews and the other buildings in the Haram area at Jerusalem (London, 1878); Charles Warren, The Temple or the Tomb (London, 1880), Claude R. Conder, “Statement of the Principal Controversies, II. Site of the Temple,” Survey of Western Palestine (Jerusalem and London, 1884); Conrad Schick, Die Stiftshütte, der Tempel in Jerusalem und der Tempelplatz der Jetztzeit (Berlin, 1896); Charles M. Watson, The site of the Temple (London: PEF, 1896); Carl Mommert, Topographie des alten Jerusalem, Zweiter Teil Das Salomonische Tempel—und Palast—quartier auf Moriah (Leipzig, 1903); Gustaf Dalman, “Der Zweite Tempel zu Jerusalem,” Palästina-Jahrbuch, 5 (1909); F.J. Hollis, The Archaeology of Herod’s Temple (London, 1934); Louis-H. Vincent, “Le Temple Hérodien d’après la Misnah,” Revue Biblique 61 (1954); Asher S. Kaufman, “The meaning of Har Habayit and its northern gate,” Niv Hamidrashia 18/19 (1984/1985); Benjamin Mazar, “The Temple Mount,” Biblical Archaeology Today (Jerusalem: IES, 1985).


Additional support for this location can be derived from the position of the underground cisterns, as surveyed by Warren. All of the cisterns, apart from cistern 12, fall outside the sanctuary, as I have located the Temple. (One would hardly expect to find people drawing water within the sanctuary itself.) As I have located the Temple, the large cistern 5 would be situated next to the Water Gate, which was near the altar, thus providing a convenient source of water for the service of the Temple.

With this location of the Temple, one can go on to identify a few more elements of the original Temple. Middot 1:3 describes the Tadi Gate as being “on the north, serving no purpose at all.” It also mentions that if “one of [the priests] should have a nocturnal emission of semen, he goes out, proceeding along the passage that leads below the building—and lamps flicker on this side and that—until he reaches the immersion room. Rabbi Eliezer ben Jacob says, ‘He goes out by the passage which leads below the rampart (chel), and so he came to the Tadi Gate.’”

Both Warren and Conder concluded that if cisterns 1 and 3 were extended farther to the north, they would meet exactly at a point in the rock scarp where they placed the Tadi Gate (Survey of Western Palestine, Jerusalem, p. 218). Cistern 1 was probably the passageway reached by descending from the Chamber of the Hearth, which was one of the three gates on the north of the inner court of the Temple, while cistern 3 was the immersion room itself. Middot continues, that there were “four offices in the Chamber of the Hearth; … [T]hrough that on the northwestern side do they go down to the room for immersion” (Middot 1:5). Despite the fact that the Tadi Gate was put out of use by Herod’s northern extension, the underground passage was still used by the priests to visit the immersion room (see endnote 24).

It is also interesting to note that this passageway (cistern 1) is exactly in line with the rock under the Dome of the Rock, and also with the passageways of the Double Gate. Using either the northern Tadi Gate or the southern Huldah Gates, the pilgrim of the past would always see first whatever was built over that rock, whether altar, Porch, the Holy or most probably the Holy of Holies of the Temple. The importance of this architectural alignment shows that these gates were built according to a uniform plan.

This southern route passes in between cisterns 6 and 36, which according to Ronnie Reich might have been mikva’ot (“Two Possible Miqva’ot on the Temple Mount,” Israel Exploration Journal 39 [1989], pp. 63–65). Reich suggests, however, that these mikva’ot were located outside the early Temple Mount.