Richard Nowitz

In the eastern retaining wall of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount platform, rows of ashlars with smooth bosses—slightly raised centers—left, contrast with irregular ashlars on the right. The smooth ashlars to the left of the vertical seam are part of the first-century B.C. southern extension of the Temple Mount platform constructed by Herod the Great. Such smooth stones with margins are hallmarks of Herodian masonry, although even the rough stones to the right of the seam may have been a Herodian repair. Archaeologists call this vertical seam, separating the smooth and rough courses of ashlars, the “straight joint.”