-Temple Mount and Ophel
-With cistern explainations
|5 location Theories
-Map and info
-Map of City Walls
-On the highest hill
-What was Triple Gate?
-Not Huldah Gate
-Who built it?
-Ruins reveal the location
-illustration 70 AD
-According to ruins
-According to Josephus
- from David to Herod
-A little history
(updated March 3, 2013)
by Norma Robertson
This Website is now in book form.
Read it for free on-line
download free PDF 2.8mborePub2.6mb
New! eBook, Free download
Temple Mount View from the West
I have already established that Josephus wrote that Fort Antonia was located on the highest hill. There are a few more key questions that when answered will tell us the exact location of Fort Antonia. The best way to understand where the fort was located is to read through Josephus' account.
How big was the temple compound and Fort Antonia altogether?
Josephus says it was "six furlongs, including fort Antonia" The Wars of the Jews, Book 5, 190
With this lower placement of the Temple compound and also the placement of Fort Antonia on the Dome of the Rock platform the measurement all the way round is 6 furlongs just as Josephus said it was. According to Josephus the Temple compound alone was 4 furlong around, that is aproxamatly 600 X 600, but when Fort Antonia was included in the Temple complex, together it was s 6 furlong around. So Fort Antonia was also a square of 600 X 600.
In a plea of Josephus to the Jews he quoted an old Jewish prophecy that said "When the Temple becomes four-square once again then will the temple and city be destroyed." By the destruction of Fort Antonia the temple HAD once again become four-square and he begged them to make peace with the Roman's before it was to late. Of course they refused.
BOOK 6 :7. In the mean time, the rest of the Roman army had, in seven days' time, overthrown [some] foundations of the tower of Antonia, and had made a ready and broad way to the temple.
Then the Jews (the tyrants among them) set on fire the cloisters that conected Fort Antonia to the Temple compound on the northwest and north to sever the Temple from the Fort. With this act the Temple was once again four-square.
It is interesting to trace the changes in the area from the time that Nehemiah rebuilt the city wall all the way up to when Josephus describes Fort Antonia as it was before the destruction of 70 AD. If we begin with the north wall described by Nehemiah with the Tower Meah and Tower Hananeel as the towers protecting the Temple from a northern attack.
The above map is as it would have been during the Time of Nehmiah
Below is First Century
The Meah fortress was built upon under the Hasmoneans during the late 2nd century BCE and renamed the Baris. It was rectangular and possessed several high towers, one of which was known as "Straton's Tower". The Baris was connected to the Temple Mount by an underground passageway. The Baris was besiged by Pompey the Great during his Siege of Jerusalem in 63 BCE, during which one of its towers was felled by Roman siege engines. Under Herod the Great, the Hasmonean Baris underwent renovation or reconstruction, and it was renamed Antonia in honor of his patron Mark Antony.
This allows for Fort Antonia to be placed on the old north wall that Nehemiah rebuilt. Recently coins from the 1st century were found under the west wall of the Temple Mount that we see today. This means that Herod the Great did not build the west wall of todays Temple Mount. It was built by his grandson or great grandson, many years after Herod the Great finished Fort Antonia and the Temple. The west wall of today was built into the Tyropeon Valley. The old west wall was built on the edge of that valley.
It is my belief that the walls of Fort Antonia were at a Northwest angle to the Temple. The reason is because of the steps at the northwest corner of the platform of the Dome of the Rock. The bottom step is not a step at all. It is the top of a very old wall. That wall is angled and my red dashed line in the below map, showing the old west wall, follows that same angle.
Herod had built the new temple
by the time of Jesus, but the new walls of the extended compound were built
by Herod's decendents, according to his Herod's plans. The new walls were
completed in 66 AD. By 70 AD it had all been destroyed by Titus.
How was the fort attached to the Temple compound?
in 93 C.E.
BOOK 5, CH. 5 Josephus Flavius regarding Tower of Antonia;
8. Now as to the tower of Antonia, it was situated at the corner of two cloisters of the court of the temple; of that on the west, and that on the north; it was erected upon a rock of fifty cubits in height(75 feet high), and was on a great precipice; (steep hill) it was the work of king Herod, wherein he demonstrated his natural magnanimity.
on the corner where it joined to the two cloisters of the temple, it
had passages down to them both, through
which the guard (for there always lay in this tower a Roman legion) went
several ways among the cloisters, with their arms, on the Jewish festivals,
in order to watch the people, that they might not there attempt to make
See above map
Was there a low wall surrounding the Rock creating a platform?
Josephus continues: In the first place, therock itself was covered over with smooth pieces of stone, from its foundation, both for ornament, and that any one who would either try to get up or to go down it might not be able to hold his feet upon it.
This would mean the sides of the 74 foot hill was covered with smooth stones so that if anyone try to climb up to the fort they would slip on the smooth stone and not be able to get up the steep hill to the base of the Fort.
Josephus continues: Next to this, and before you come to the edifice of the tower itself, there was a wall three cubits high; (4.5 feet high) but within that wall all the space of the tower of Antonia itself was built upon, to the height of forty cubits (60 feet).
A 4.5 foot wall surrounded the upper part of the hill and the fort was built within that wall. This would mean that land fill was placed within the bounders of this low wall to create a flat spot to build the Fort.
What were the dimensions?
BOOK 15 CHP 4,
4. Now on the north side was built a citadel, whose walls were square, and strong, and of extraordinary firmness. This citadel (Tower of Antonia) was built by the kings of the Asamonean race, who were also high priests before Herod, and they called it the Tower, in which were reposited the vestments of the high priest, which the high priest only put on at the time when he was to offer sacrifice.
...............But for the tower itself, when Herod the king of the Jews had fortified it more firmly than before, in order to secure and guard the temple, he gratified Antonius, who was his friend, and the Roman ruler, and then gave it the name of the Tower of Antonia.
regarding Tower of Antonia, the height of the fortress and its towers.
Josephus continues speaking of Fort Antonia: The inward parts had the largeness and form of a palace, it being parted into all kinds of rooms and other conveniences, such as courts, and places for bathing, and broad spaces for camps; insomuch that, by having all conveniences that cities wanted, it might seem to be composed of several cities, but by its magnificence it seemed a palace. And as the entire structure resembled that of a tower, it contained also four other distinct towers at its four corners; whereof the others were but fifty cubits high; whereas that which lay upon the southeast corner was seventy cubits high, that from thence the whole temple might be viewed;
increments used in the map and drawing above.
cubit = 44.4 cm, which is the length of the Roman cubit.
What valley's were on the East and West of the fort?
A ditch nearly 200 feet long
The Dome of the Rock theory places the Fort on the wrong side of the moat!
2. .................... It was Agrippa who encompassed the parts added to the old city with this wall, which had been all naked before; for as the city grew more populous, it gradually crept beyond its old limits, and those parts of it that stood northward of the temple, and joined that hill to the city, made it considerably larger, and occasioned that hill,which is in number the fourth, and is called "Bezetha," to be inhabited also.
It lies over against (across from) the tower Antonia, but is divided from it by a deep valley, which was dug on purpose, and that in order to hinder the foundations of the tower of Antonia from joining to this hill, and thereby affording an opportunity for getting to it with ease, and hindering the security that arose from its superior elevation; for which reason also that depth of the ditch (moat) made the elevation of the towers more remarkable. This new-built part of the city was called "Bezetha," in our language, which, if interpreted in the Grecian language, may be called "the New City."
Josephus, in his description of the siege of the Temple by Pompey, BC 63, says that the Roman
Commander found it impossible to attack it on any other quarter than the north, on account of the frightful ravines on every other side; and that even on this side (north side) he had to fill up "the fosse (moat) and "the whole of the ravine, which lay on the north quarter of the Temple;" and in the description of
the siege of the Temple by Herod, BC 38, 37, he says, that Herod made the attacks in the same manner as did Pompey, that is, from the north side of it.
When he comes to the description of the siege by Titus, AD 70, the Temple with its enclosure, and the tower of Antonia at the north-west angle of the enclosure, having been entirely rebuilt by Herod, BC 17, Josephus says that the design of Titus was "to take the Temple at the tower of Antonia;" and that for this purpose he raised great banks; one of which was at the tower of Antonia, and the other at about 20 cubits from it; and that for the purpose of obtaining materials or filling up the immense fosse and ravine to the north of the Temple, he had to bring them from a great distance; and that the country all round for a distance of 19 or 12 miles was made perfectly bare in consequence.
Here is a quote from the web page of by Lambert Dolphin and Michael Kollen
1. Where was the Antonia Fortress?
Ancient Jerusalem was protected on the east, south, and west by valleys. The Antonia Fortress was located to the north to protect the weaker north side of the city. (In fact, it was from the north that Titus Vespasian breached the walls in his famous attack in 70 C.E.)
According to ancient sources, the fortress was on a hill about 25 meters high. The current El Omriah school building is on a rock only 5 meters high. From many stratographic and other considerations it is doubted by some experts that this was the actual location of the Antonia Fortress. Tuvia Sagiv's papers discuss the critical issue of the actual location of the Fortress Antonia, which he believes was well to the south, perhaps at the location of the Dome of the Rock.
2. The Location of the Ancient North Moat (the Fosse)
Traditional renderings show a deep, filled-in fosse (moat), north of the Temple Mount, lying south of the Antonia Fortress, between the fortress and the Temple Mount.
According to ancient sources, however, the Antonia Fortress and the Temple Mount were adjacent to each other. The moat should be to the north of the Tower for protection, placing the Antonia about where the Dome of the Rock stands today! End quote
The Straight Joint
From the south-east corner of the present-day Temple Mount, the eastern wall shows Herodian masonry for some 106 feet. At that point a seam, or straight joint, is visible, to the north of which Hasmonean masonry appears followed by the oldest masonry believed to perhaps be that of Hezekiah. All of the upper courses of the wall are muslim.
The Secret Passage
THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS
Book 15, Chapter 11
7. There was also an occult (underground) passage built for the king; it led from Antonia to the inner temple, at its eastern gate; over which he also erected for himself a tower, that he might have the opportunity of a subterraneous ascent to the temple, in order to guard against any sedition which might be made by the people against their kings.
Warren's Description of a passage
Cistern No. V, under platform to the south-east of the "Dome of the Rock," descended; 48 feet deep, 2 feet water. This cistern has a curious cruciform shape; at the eastern end a low doorway cut in the rock leads to a flight of steps, which after ascending some distance in a southerly direction, turns sharp off to the east, and communicates with a subterranean passage; the passage is covered by a semicircular vault, and at its entrance to the cistern are the remains of a doorway; on the floor there was a thick slimy deposit, and a few yards beyond the doorway the opening was blocked up by earth; there are two openings to the cistern in use and one closed, below one of the former a rough basin has been made to collect the water from the different branches. No conduit could be seen entering the cistern; the roof of the south-eastern branch is of rock, but there was not sufficient light to see what that of the other portion was made of.