Friday, November 19, 2010

A Visit to the Temple Mount

Recently, I visited the Temple Mount for the first time in my life. My guide is extremely knowledgeable, and my visit there was fascinating. We were there for well over two hours, and on the way out, my guide told me: I probably haven’t given you even a tenth of the information that’s available.

Here are several of the photos that I took up there.

Light and shadow in the new (and supposedly temporary) passage to the Mughrabi Gate:

Light and shadow on the way to the Mughrabi Gate

Capitals from columns from various eras:

Capitals from various times and places

Light and shadow from the crenellations along the eastern wall of the Temple Mount:

Crenellations, light and shadow

My guide pointed out damage from a power saw on this column of pink marble:

Column with damage from power saw

There is currently a court order in effect that any debris removed from the Temple Mount must be accompanied by an archaeologist. But the Waqf, in its zeal to erase any evidence of Jewish presence from the Temple Mount, evades this order simply by not removing the debris, but leaving it there, or redistributing it in various places on the Mount.

Dome with waste pile

Another waste pile with possible archaeological finds:

Waste on Temple Mount

According to my guide, these olive trees are hundreds of years old. Some of them are perhaps as much as a thousand years old. They were being harvested when we were there. Imagine eating olives, or using olive oil, from a thousand-year-old olive tree.

Ancient olive trees

Approaching the Dome of the Rock under a clear blue Jerusalem sky. (No, we didn’t go in. Non-Muslims haven’t been allowed inside the Dome of the Rock in a decade.)

Approaching the Dome of the Rock

The rear of a mihrab (a structure whose function is to point the way to Mecca, the direction of prayer for Muslims) with an uprooted tree

Rear of mihrab with uprooted tree

My guide told me that sarcophagi were often reused as water troughs. Here is one example just outside one of the gates leading to the Temple Mount:

Sarcophagus made into water trough

See the rest of the set here.