Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Tisha B'Av Special: Are These the Beams of the Temple?
Is this the Gift from King Hiram of Sidon to King Solomon?

Are these carved beams from the Jewish Temple?
 (Israel Antiquities Authority)
King Solomon requested from King Hiram of Sidon: 'Hew me cedar-trees out of Lebanon for thou knowest that there is not among us any that hath skill to hew timber like unto the Sidonians.'  And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying: 'I have heard that which thou hast sent unto me; I will do all thy desire concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of cypress. My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon...' (I Kings 5)

To commemorate Tisha B'Av today, the day Jews around the world mourn the destruction of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem, The Times of Israel republished an article Did Ancient Beams Discarded in the Old City Come from the First and Second Temples? by Matti Friedman.

Friedman reveals: "Under a tarp in one little-visited corner of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem lies a pile of rotting timber that would hardly catch a visitor’s eye."  He reports that some of the beams date back 2,000 and even 3,000 years. 

More beams are in storage in the Jewish community of Ofra and in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem.  Friedman suggests that they were removed during renovations on the Temple Mount after the 1927 earthquake destroyed parts of the al Aqsa Mosque.

We publish here, perhaps for the first time, 85-year-old pictures of the beams recently digitalized and posted online by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Chamber, column and staircase under
the al Aqsa mosque. "Ancient entrance
to the Temple," according to the Library
of Congress caption (1927)
At least two photographers gained access to the excavation site -- one from the American Colony Photography and Robert Hamilton from the British Mandate Archeological Authority.  This publication presented their photos in Eureka! Pictures Beneath the Temple Mount Now Online earlier this year.  The feature included pictures of mosaics, chambers, and staircases that could date back to the Temple.

 Hamilton "photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed" what he saw, according to  Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem sites, writing in  Yisrael HaYom last year.  But Hamilton 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.

When the British left Palestine in 1948 the British Archeological Authority became the Israel Archeological Authority. The Rockefeller Museum and its archeological treasures came under Israeli control when the IDF reunited Jerusalem.

Could these pictures from the Israel Archeological Authority show the beams of the Jewish Temples?

"Principal beams" (IAA)
"Principal beams"
Click on pictures to enlarge.

Click on caption to view the original.

Carved wood panels

Panels and other timbers

1 comment:

  1. I find this very interesting. I arrived at this article from following the Hebron Massacre photographs on INN.

    My question is: Can the well known archaeological technique of tree dating be used on these beams?

    This is a very common technique in Northern Europe where I come from...Felix Quigley