Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eureka! Pictures Beneath the Temple Mount Now Online
The Israel Antiquities Authority Pictures Taken after the 1927 Earthquake

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
Temple plaza
In October 2012, we published here "What Is behind the Mysterious Sealed Gates of Jerusalem's Old City?" 

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
This week, the IAA posted hundreds of photographs online, apparently from Hamilton's collection.  The pictures lack the notations and captions available on the Library of Congress photos, but it is clear that some of the pictures were taken at the same time.  The IAA undertook a painstaking task of digitalizing tens of thousands of documents, maps and photographs from the 1919-1948 period.

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



Cistern

Trench dug in the flooring. Note levels beneath it


Note the levels
  
Remains of a mosaic found


6 comments:

  1. Brilliant
    Left me speechless,
    Harry Orenstein, FRICS

    ReplyDelete
  2. i would really like to see all this for real in my lifetime...

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  3. Baruch HaShem. The Temple Mount comes to life...may we be able to visit these sites in our lifetime.

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  4. Amazing and purely wonderful, at last a glimpse of what we are missing and have withheld from us.

    ReplyDelete