|Library of Congress caption from the American Colony|
Collection: "The Temple area. The Double Gate.
Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." Note the
staircase that apparently led to the surface and the
The essay showed two incredible 85-year old photographs of columns and chambers under the Temple Mount from the archives of the Library of Congress/American Colony collection of photographs. The captions under the pictures read "The Temple area, the Double Gate. Ancient entrance to Temple beneath al Aqsa." The pictures were taken between 1920 and 1933, according to the caption.
We theorized in October that the American Colony photographer gained access to the area under the al Aqsa Mosque, partially destroyed in the 1927 earthquake.
Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem sites, reported in a Yisrael HaYom article last year, that Robert Hamilton, director of the British Mandate Antiquities Authority, had explored under the mosque at the time. He "photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed" what he saw. But he promised the Islamic Authorities, the Waqf, that he would make "no mention of any findings that the Muslims would have found inconvenient" such as findings from the time of the Jewish Temples.
|IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the|
"Double Gate Pendenture"
|From the IAA Hamilton collection. Inside the "Double Gate" of|
the southern wall of the Temple Mount. It is clearly the same arch
in the picture taken by the American Colony photographer.
After 1948 the British Mandate Antiquities Authority became the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), and after the 1967 war the old archives in the Rockefeller Museum also came under Israeli control.
|Flight of stairs (on the right side) leading into a rock-cut passage|
More study of the IAA photographs is required, especially to identify some of Hamilton's reported finds, including a Jewish mikve, a ritual bath, under al Aqsa. The photos show columns, cisterns, passageways, mosaics, arches, timbers, and layers of ruins beneath the al Aqsa flooring.
We anxiously await the commentary of Israeli archaeologists, but we share with readers now some of the amazing pictures.
Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on caption to see the original.
|Vault found. Note pier on left|
|Trench dug in the flooring. Note levels beneath it|
|Note the levels|
|Remains of a mosaic found|