Friday, October 19, 2012

A Cave under the Temple Mount's Foundation Stone?
More Mysteries Documented in Ancient Pictures

Descent under the "great rock" on Mt. Moriah  (under the Dome of the Rock).
Woodcut in explorer Col Charles Wilson's book, Picturesque Palestine, Sinai
and Egypt. (1881, New York Public Library)
For centuries, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been the focus of worshippers, scholars and explorers.

But few archaeologists have explored history's secrets hidden in the caves, tunnels and cisterns beneath the Hiram el-Sharif -- controlled by the Muslim Waqf.
Interior of Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) and the
Foundation Stone. (circa 1870, Bonfils, Library of Congress)
See also photo from American Colony Collection (circa 1900).
According to Jewish tradition the stone was the site for Abraham's
"binding of Isaac" and the location of the Temples' Holy of Holies.
Muslims believe it was from where Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Israel Daily Picture site provided last week photos from the Library of Congress archives taken after a 1927 earthquake destroyed parts of the el-Aqsa mosque. 

We were very curious when we discovered additional photos in the American Colony and Felix Bonfils collections showing the entrance to a cave beneath the "foundation stone" (even hashtiya in Jewish tradition) on which the Jewish Temples and the Mosque of Omar* were built.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem provided details on the cave:

Beneath the rock is a hewn cave [some claim the cave is natural] seven-by-seven meters wide. In the cave's ceiling is a hole approximately half-a-meter in diameter, a sort of chimney going up.
Entrance to the staircase to the cave beneath the Foundation
Stone (Bonfils, circa 1870). See also American Colony photo

"Solomon's Prayer Place" can be
seen in the above woodcut to
the left of the staircase
A feature in National Geographic suggested that the beneath the cave may be another chamber hiding the Ark of the Covenant: "Knocking on the floor of the cave under the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine elicits a resounding hollow echo, [but] no one has ever seen this alleged chamber....Famed 19th-century British explorers Charles Wilson and Sir Charles Warren could neither prove nor disprove the existence of a hollow chamber below the cave. They believed the sound reportedly heard by visitors was simply an echo in a small fissure beneath the floor."
The cave under the Foundation Stone today (with permission
of Ron Peled, All About Jerusalem)

The American Colony photos include a picture taken in the cave captioned "Solomon's prayer place under rock of Mosque of Omar [i.e., Dome of the Rock]."  The prayer niche is more likely an ancient Muslim Mihrab pointing to Mecca.

*According to National Geographic, "the dome, called Qubbat as-Sakhrah in Arabic, is not a mosque. Rather, it is a shrine built over the rock."


  1. There is a Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem, but it is located close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is better to refer to this building as the Dome of the Rock, as it is not even a proper mosque. And the Temple Mount (rather its top) is denominated Haram ash-Sharif in Arabic.

  2. The description from The Glorious Quran descripe exactly with regards to The Baitul Haram, Masjidil Haram and The Ka'ba. This is Bakkah, where The First House of our LORD, built by Prophet Abraham.