Kathleen Ritmdeyer and Leen Ritmeyer, “Reconstructing Herod’s Temple Mount,” BAR 15:06; L. Ritmeyer, “Locating the Original Temple Mount,” BAR 18:02; “The Ark of the Covenant: Where It Stood in Solomon’s Temple,” BAR 22:01. All three articles have been published as a book: L. Ritmeyer and K. Ritmeyer, Secrets of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1998).


Leen Ritmeyer, “Locating the Original Temple Mount,” BAR 18:02, pp. 40–42.



Leen Ritmeyer, “The Architectural Development of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem” (Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Manchester, 1992).


Josephus, The Jewish War 5.225.


See Ritmeyer, The Temple and the Rock (Harrogate, UK: Ritmeyer Archaeological Design, 1996), p. 51 note 45.


For reports on the excavations at the northeast angle, see Charles Warren and Claude R. Conder, Survey of Western Palestine, vol. 2, (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1884), pp. 126–147; Charles Wilson, “The Masonry of the Haram Wall,” in Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement (1880), pp. 39–46; Wilson and Warren, Recovery of Jerusalem (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871), pp. 159–188.


Warren and Conder, Survey of Western Palestine, p. 245.


Frederick J. Hollis, The Archaeology of Herod’s Temple (London: Dent and Sons, 1934), pp. 50, 58; Joannes Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament (Leiden, 1952), pp. 417ff., 500, note 2.


Original photograph on glass plate by R. E. M. Bain, published in John H. Vincent, Early Footsteps of the Man of Galilee (New York: N.D. Thompson, 1894), p. 129.


At first it would appear that two different kinds of stones were used in this wall, separated by the line of vegetation. The stones above this line are rough and the ones below, at lower right of the picture, are smoother. Thick walls like this one, however, were built by placing two rows of stones with their faces outward and filling the space between with rubble and mortar. Only the face of the stones was dressed and never the back, because the back would not have been seen and the rougher surface provides a better grip for the mortar. The rough upper stones, then, are actually the back of the stones that face southward towards the Temple Mount. The vegetation grows in the core of the wall, and below that are the smoother stones that face the pool. The original plaster, which would have been attached to this wall, has not survived.


I could play devil’s advocate and suggest that from the east there were 15+4+12 steps, which still would make a difference of 16 cubits. Many researchers have fallen into this trap. Although this may be surprising at first, it is nevertheless in agreement with the writings of Josephus, where we read that the 15 steps in the Court of the Women were shallower than all the others (Jewish War 5.206). In contrast to the other steps of the Temple court, which had a height of half a cubit (Middot 2.3), Middot is silent about the height of the 15 steps. It states only that they are “corresponding to the fifteen Songs of Ascents in the Psalms, and upon them the Levites used to sing. They were not four-square, but rounded like the half of a round threshing-floor” (Middot 2.5).

Starting at the top, the 12 steps leading to the Temple porch are 6 cubits high and the barrier 2.5 cubits. This makes 8.5 cubits, or 16 feet 8 inches, leaving 6 feet 4 inches for the 15 semicircular steps, giving a height of just over 5 inches to a step, which is in harmony with the observations of Josephus. The height of these steps also comes close to that of the usual Herodian steps, many of which were found in Benjamin Mazar’s excavations.


Ritmeyer, The Temple and the Rock, p. 60, fig. 32.