Sunday, January 5, 2014

Funny, It Doesn't Look Like a Mountain or Hell --
Vintage Photos from Jerusalem's Hinnom Valley

Original caption: "Mount Tabor, Palestine, Scene of Barake Caeup [sic]." In
fact, it is the pool and cattle market in Jerusalem's Hinom Valley.
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock,
University of California, Riverside)
The archives at the University of California - Riverside contains this picture, but clearly the caption "Mount Tabor" was wrong.

This is a picture of "Gei Hinnom" (the Hinnom Valley) in Jerusalem, beneath the walls of the Old City.

Today, few residents or tourists know about the history of the area called "Breichat HaSultan (the Sultan's Pool), except for the occasional concert in the amphitheater.

As we researched the picture, however, we discovered that the pool and cattle market were the frequent focus of photographers a century ago.

The Hinom Valley - Breichat HaSultan amphitheater today
(Go Jerusalem)

The Valley of Ben-Hinnom is mentioned repeatedly in the Bible, serving as a border between tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

From biblical times it had an infamous reputation as the site of human sacrifices to Molech.  The evil perpetrated there made the name "Gei Hinnom," or Gehenna, synonymous with Hell.

A dam was built across the valley, possibly at the time of the Second Temple, with a road on top that passed between Mt. Zion and the opposite hill (eventually Mishkenot HaSha'ananim). The reservoir created by the dam measured 169 meters by 67meters, with a depth of 12 meters. The road became one of the principle routes to Jerusalem from the south.  Suleiman the Magnificent built a sabil fountain on the dam, and it still exists today. 

Photo of the Hinom Valley cattle market taken from the dam
(Credit: Keystone-Mast Collection, California Museum of
Photography at UCR ARTSblock, University of California, Riverside)
Suleiman's fountain on the dam (Library of
Congress, circa 1937)

Road to Jerusalem station showing the Hinnom Valley, the Sultan's Pool, and the sabil. (circa 1895)
 (Library of Congress collection)

A sheep market was located on the opposite side of Jerusalem's Old City at Herod's Gate, which can be viewed here.

After the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors, the valley was a desolate no-man's zone between Jordan and Israel.
Cattle market (1900, Library of Congress, also in
University of Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book
 Library and the Arizona Historical Society
Library, Tempe)

Sultan's pool. Note the buildings built on the right and
behind the bridge/dam (Wikipedia Commons)

Click on pictures to enlarge, click on captions to view the original picture. 

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