Richard Nowitz

The octagonal Dome of the Rock dominates the elevated platform in the center of the esplanade of the Temple Mount. In this aerial view looking west, the seventh-century A.D. golden-domed mosque dwarfs the adjoining octagonal building, the Dome of the Chain, apparently an eighth-century copy of the Dome of the Rock.

Originally constructed by King Solomon as a site for his palace and the Temple of Yahweh, the Temple Mount was substantially enlarged by Herod the Great in the first century B.C. when he rebuilt the Temple.

Beneath the paved surface of the Temple Mount platform are a number of cisterns, identified on the plan. Rivka Gonen proposes that 1,000 years before Solomon built his Temple here, the bedrock was pierced with shaft tombs that served as the cemetery for the community living to the south, on the hill of Ophel; the cisterns, Gonen says, are a later reuse of these tombs.