Hershel Shanks

Massive Herodian ashlars, reused in the Judeo-Christian synagogue on Mt. Zion (Zion III). On the eastern and southern exterior walls of the synagogue building, now housing the so-called tomb of David, the lower walls contain finely dressed Herodian ashlars. Moved to their present position after previous use in another structure, these large rectangular stones exhibit chipped corners, perhaps damaged in their travels or from the destruction of the structure to which they originally belonged. In this photo, BAR managing editor Suzanne Singer looks at some of the stones with chipped corners in the southern wall.

Author Bargil Pixner suggests that the Judeo-Christians returned to Jerusalem shortly after 70 A.D., after the Temple and the city had been destroyed by the Romans. Sometime in the following decade they built their synagogue on Mt. Zion, perhaps using some of the fallen ashlars from the ruins of Herod’s citadel or even of the Temple itself. By using stones from the destroyed Temple, it may be that these Judeo-Christians sought to transfer the holiness of the former Temple to their new church-synagoge that commemorated events at the time of Jesus’ last days on earth.