Hershel Shanks

Jerusalem dismantled. Chiseled stones, called ashlars, which formed the upper reaches of the Temple Mount’s retaining wall, lie in a heap where the Romans toppled them after destroying Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 C.E. Weighing 3 to 5 tons each, the massive stones dwarf a man (far left in the photo) standing on the recently excavated street that ran along the western wall of the Temple Mount, as rebuilt by King Herod (37–4 B.C.E.).

A witness to the siege, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus described the degradation of Jerusalem under Roman hands: “No stranger who had seen the old Judea and the entrancingly beautiful suburbs of her capital, and now beheld her present desolation, could have refrained from tears or suppressed a sigh at the greatness of the change. For the war had ruined all the marks of beauty, and no one who knew it of old, coming suddenly upon it, would have recognized the place, but, though beside it, he would have looked for the city.”