Meir Ben-Dov

Flowers and geometric designs covered the ceilings of the Hulda Gates’ tunnels. These tunnels connected the Temple esplanade with openings in the southern wall.

The flowers, though stylized, represented specific local species. The author and his excavation team discovered some 300 fragments of carved stone decorations, which probably adorned the Triple Gate (see photograph). In the Double Gate vestibule, carvings still decorate the ceiling, but they cannot be seen without permission of the Moslem authorities.

These fragments give us tangible evidence of how the decorations on the entrance to the Temple itself may have appeared. Probably painted in realistic colors, the decorations were by all reports magnificent. Josephus exclaims that the Temple was “the most wonderful edifice ever seen or heard of, both for its size and construction and for the lavish perfection of detail and the glory of its holy places” Jewish War VI.267).