Garo Nalbandian

The misnamed “Masonic Hall.” received its moniker from Charles Warren, who imagined it had served as a gathering place for King Solomon’s builders. The current name, the Hasmonean Hall, is closer to historical accuracy, but still wrong—the room actually dates to the Herodian period. The construction here matches the very high standards of the most important Herodian structures, the Temple Mount and the tomb of the patriarchs in Hebron; the walls, preserved to a height of 20 feet, consist of carefully smoothed blocks and slightly jutting pilasters (engaged pillars). The Masonic Hall must have had an important function, but no one knows what it was. The now broken column in the middle of the room was added later, after an earthquake weakened the room’s structure.