A common architectural heritage is evident in the plans of Solomon’s Temple and several other temples from northern Israel and Syria. Despite various surface differences, these buildings share the same basic three-room plan, known as the “long-room plan,” which is thought to have derived from Syria in the second millennium B.C.E. before spreading south.
Each temple is entered through a portico formed by the extension of the temple’s two side walls. Within each portico stood two columns, which probably supported the roof. At ‘Ain Dara, the shallow portico leads into an antechamber, which in turn leads into the main hall. The other temples shown here had deeper porticos, which opened directly onto the main hall. At the back of each main hall is a shrine room, which could be a niche, as in the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.) temple at Hazor, in northern Israel; a separate room, as in the eighth-century temple at Tell Ta‘yinat, in northern Syria; a wooden cube set into the main hall, as in Solomon’s Temple; or a screened-off podium, as at ‘Ain Dara. (The outside corridors that wrapped around three sides of the ‘Ain Dara and Solomonic temples are not depicted here.)