Brian Lalor

Based on archaeological evidence found mostly since 1967, this drawing by artist and architect Brian Lalor shows the Temple Mount as it probably appeared in first-century Herodian Jerusalem. We are looking at the western side of the Temple Mount; the southern wall is to the right. Today’s open-air prayer area at the Western Wall is located between the bridge on the left and the small door to its right called Barclay’s Gate. Against the western wall, a north-south road ran along the Tyropoeon Valley, passing under the bridge support now called Wilson’s Arch, and continuing under the arch, now called Robinson’s Arch, at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. The paved street followed the bedrock as it sloped downward from north to south. According to a theory proposed in “How Herod Moved Gigantic Blocks to Construct Temple Mount,” in this issue, the huge megaliths, used to build the Temple Mount retaining wall, may have been rolled down this road from the limestone quarry located one-half mile to the north.

Over the centuries, the Tyropoeon Valley filled up with debris and earth burying the arches, vaulted chambers and storerooms, the north-south road, and many courses of the western wall. In recent years, the Rabbinical Tunnel excavation has dug through this fill from Wilson’s Arch to a point 600 feet to the north.