Erich Lessing

A LONG JOURNEY HOME. Although the Temple treasures were initially taken from Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., as depicted in this bas-relief from the Arch of Titus in Rome, they may have found their way back to the Holy City some five centuries later. After passing through the hands of the Romans and then the Vandals, who conquered Rome, Procopius relates that the Temple treasures found their way to the Byzantine court at Constantinople during the reign of Justinian. Upon hearing an ominous warning, however, that the items must be returned to “the place where Solomon, the King of the Jews, formerly placed them,” Justinian is said to have sent all the items back to Jerusalem. The Nea—itself inspired by the grandeur of Solomon’s Temple—was the ideal repository for these well-traveled holy artifacts.