The four major stages of development of the Temple Mount platform are shown here from two views—as plans seen from above and as perspective reconstructions viewed from the southwest.

Square Temple Mount

This square platform supported the First Temple, which was destroyed by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar in 587/586 B.C. and then rebuilt by Nehemiah and the returnees from the Babylonian Exile in about 444 B.C. According to Nehemiah 3:1 and 12:39, the towers of Hananeel and Mea stood at the northwest corner of the Temple Mount. The Sheep Gate and Prison Gate were to the east of them. As recorded in Jeremiah 31:38 and Zechariah 14:10, Hananeel existed at the end of the First Temple period, which also indicates that the square Temple Mount existed then as well. After the destruction of Hananeel and Mea in 587/586 B.C., they were rebuilt and called Baris by the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus I (134–104 B.C.). According to Josephus the Baris stood on the north side of the Temple, apparently on the same spot where previously the towers of Hananeel and Mea stood. This Baris was destroyed in 63 B.C. by Pompey. Herod rebuilt Baris between 37 and 31 B.C. (that is, before he enlarged the Temple Mount) and renamed it Antonia after his patron Mark Anotony. This original Antonia was located therefore at the northwest corner of the square Temple Mount. Herod later built another fortress, also called Antonia, at the northwest corner of his enlarged Temple Mount.

Seleucid Addition

In 186 B.C. the Seleucid ruler of Syria built the Akra, a fortress intended to control the population of Jerusalem. It adjoined the southern side of the Temple Platform.

Hasmonean Extension

The Hasmoneans extended the platform along the southern end of the Temple Mount in 141 B.C., building atop the dismantled Akra fortress. A pair of tunnels that would later be known as the Double and Triple Gate passageways were built at the south, leading up to the Mount.

Herodian Expansion

The last and most extensive expansion of the Temple Mount occurred under King Herod (37–4 B.C.), who enlarged the Mount on the north and west and even further to the south.

At the northwest corner of the newly expanded platform, Herod built the Antonia fortress to defend the Temple precincts. The north side of the Temple was most vulnerable to attack because it did not have a valley to hamper assaults, as did the other three sides. Because the eastern edge of the Temple Mount drops off steeply into the Kidron valley, no extension was ever made on that side.