Monday, October 31, 2011

The Gates of Jerusalem Then and Now, Part V -- Dung Gate, Sha'ar Ha'Ashpot

Dung Gate interior (circa 1900)
The wall of Jerusalem's Old City and many of the gates that we see today were built in 1540 during the days of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent.  The Dung Gate is one of eight gates in the Old City Wall. 

Dung Gate interior (circa

The original Dung Gate is mentioned in the book of Nehemiah 3:13.  Close to the Temple Mount and facing the ancient City of David and the Shiloach spring, the original gate was probably well traversed.  The gate is at the lowest point of the walls, and indeed it was probably used for removing refuse and possibly ashes from the Temple.  A major drainage tunnel near the gate, more than 600 meters long and dating back at least to Herod's days, has recently been discovered and cleared and opened for tourists.

"Ash heaps from the Temple
sacrifices" 1898
The Library of Congress collection includes one picture, incredibly captioned, "Ash heaps from the Temple sacrifices."  The location of the photo is unclear but it does not appear to match the terrain below the Dung Gate.
Dung Gate today. Note the small arch of
the original Ottoman gate on top of
the larger opening

The Ottoman-built gate was small and narrow, the upper arch of which is still visible above today's gate.  In 1952, during Jordan's occupation of the Old City, the gate was widened to permit vehicles to enter.  The opening was reinforced with cement posts. The gate was renovated by Israel after 1967 to match the Ottoman stone and design.

See previous photo essays on the Zion Gate, Damascus Gate, Golden Gate and Lions Gate.


  1. I'm not sure the photos are of the same location in the wall. If you visit the Dung Gate, you will see that there is another entrance a few meters to the west (ie to your right if you are inside the gate). That is the gate in the old photos (as far as I can tell).

  2. Moshe
    You're referring to Tanners' Gate, a medieval gate that was discovered in the 1980s and opened as a pedestrian entry. Archeologists found vats and pools around the gate and concluded that the tanners worked in the area.