Basking in luminous yellow light, the Temple Mount and the Old City of Jerusalem reflect the early morning sun in a view toward the northwest. Today dominated by the golden Dome of the Rock (center) and the silver-domed El Aqsa mosque (lower left), two of the holiest shrines in Islam, the Temple Mount was—until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.—the site of ancient Israel’s holy Temple.
The size of 24 football fields, the nearly rectangular Temple Mount attained its current size and shape during an ambitious expansion program begun by King Herod in 19 B.C. The Dome of the Rock sits on a smaller, somewhat trapezoidal raised area referred to as the Muslim platform. The First Temple and the Second Temple as rebuilt by the returning exiles stood on a square Temple Mount somewhere within the borders of the current Temple Mount. Until now, no one knew for sure just where this early Temple Mount was located. Now author Leen Ritmeyer, formerly architect for the Temple Mount excavations undertaken after 1967 under the direction of Hebrew University Professor Benjamin Mazar, has pieced together subtle archaeological clues to convincingly locate the original Temple Mount and to make a highly persuasive suggestion on the location of the Temple itself.