Channels and levels
|The Ancient Steps of the Ophel||Josephus: Temple|
-Map of City Wall
East of the Triple gates
This structure was made of recycled Herodian stones. Since Herod would not let his workers rebuild the eastern cloisters,nor disturb the East Gate, it would mean that these vaults were built after the time the Herodian walls were completed in 66 AD.
Even though it was dubbed Solomon's Stables by the Crusaders, this arched area was not built in Solomon's time, nor were they stables before the time of the Crusaders. They were built with recycled Herodian stones, dating them to the post second Temple era.
at the Southeast Corner
The Hebrew builders always dug down to bedrock to create a solid base for large structures. The Romans employed this same method when constructing the Southeastern corner of the Temple Mount.
Those industrious Romans!
I'd like to give my "opinion" on what may have taken place after the destruction of the temple by Titus in 70 AD. Once the southern portion of the Jewish Temple compound (enclosed Temple site) was torn down, then all the Herodian stones from that section were used for the new extended southeast wall. They began by building terraced compartments in the southeast corner, which are now called Solomon's Stables.
The Southeast corner of the Mount is constructed in layers. Each layer made up of a series of arches, built in the same manner of the Jewish outer court. The use of this system was used in many countries. They added layer atop layer until the steep hill was brought up to level with the roof of the Triple Gate passageways (Solomon's Porch). Then fill dirt was laid over the top of it all.
The wall itself was made of recycled Herodian stones.
The last level (compartment) was found to be full of rubble, much of it from the second Temple era, i.e. broken stones, marble pieces, and columns, etc. One must ask when and how this rubble got hauled in there! I think the Roman's used it as a rubble dump, so to speak.
The Roman Emperor, Hadrian in 130 AD, is most likely the person that built up the walls of the Mount and created a flat surface of the Mount for a temple of jupiter.
Quote from wikapedia: The city of Aelia Capitolina was built in 130
CE by the Roman emperor Hadrian, and occupied by a Roman colony on the
site of Jerusalem, which was still in ruins from the First Jewish Revolt
in 70 CE. Aelia came from Hadrian's nomen gentile, Aelius, while Capitolina
meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus, to whom a
temple was built on the site of the former second Jewish temple, the Temple
Hadrian had intended the construction of the new city as a gift to the Jews, but since he had constructed a giant statue of himself in front of the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Jupiter had a huge statue of Jupiter inside of it, there were now two enormous graven images on the Temple Mount. It was also the normal practice of the adherents of the Hellenic religion to sacrifice pigs before their deities. In addition to this, Hadrian issued a decree prohibiting the practice of circumcision. These three factors, the graven images, the sacrifice of pigs before the altar, and the prohibition of circumcision, constituted for non-Hellenized radical Zealot Jews a new abomination of desolation, and thus Bar Kochba launched the Third Jewish Revolt. After the Third Jewish Revolt failed, all Jews were forbidden on pain of death from entering the city. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Mount
The southeast corner wall was built without pride of workmanship, nothing more than mismatched recycled stones. Herod would have been very upset that we attribute this wall to him.
Below is an example of the pattern of a wall built of Herodian stone properly laid. See how the embossing (cut grooves) when put together create a line the length of the wall. These are boss stones cut with a groove around the stone so that they create an elegant appearance when placed in rows. It is like the signature.
The drawing below was made by Charles Warren over 100 years ago of the southeast corner . He dug a deep tunnel to view these stones and an artist made a sketch. They recognized that these stones were Herodian stones with mysterious markings on them.
Strange that the people wondering about these markings didn't also make note of the disorder in this wall. A hodge-podge of similar stones stacked one on another.
However very few of these stones belong together. I would say that whoever built this corner of the Mount didn't seem to care what it looked like, but only the height of each stone, for the purpose of stacking to make rows.
The markings on some of these stones are masons marks. They tell the builder where to place the stone in a building. Whether it be in a corner, or part of a certain arch, etc. One can't help but notice that in the middle of the bottom row the stone with lots of writing on it is upside down, or the two stones on either side of it are upside down. You can tell by the large bossing.
My guess is that some of these stones that have no mark have a mark
on the other side. My wildest guess is that these recycled stones could
possibly be stones from the Temple building itself. This would explain
why none of the Temple Stones have ever been found. That is just
With my southern location for the Temple it makes a big difference in the location of the Southeast and southwest corners of the Temple; being that they would have been built lower down on the slop of Ophel hill the south wall of Herod's south wall would have been the tallest outer walls of the Temple compound.
So let's see what Josephus says about the southern corners of the Temple.
Antiquities of the Jews - Book 15 Ch 11 , 5
but the fourth front of the temple, which was southward, had indeed itself gates in its middle, as also it had the royal cloisters, with three walks, which reached in length from the east valley unto that on the west, for it was impossible it should reach any farther: and this cloister deserves to be mentioned better than any other under the sun; for while the valley was very deep, and its bottom could not be seen, if you looked from above into the depth, this further vastly high elevation of the cloister stood upon that height, insomuch that if any one looked down from the top of the battlements, or down both those altitudes, he would be giddy, while his sight could not reach to such an immense depth.
So according to this the Southeast corner was NOT built to the bottom of the Kidron Valley and that if one accounts for the depth of the Kidron and then adds the height of the south wall to it then it made one giddy to look down.
(The Wars Of The Jews 5. 5. 2. )
The lowest part of this (lower court of the temple) was erected to the height of 300 cubits, and in some places more; yet did not the entire depth of the foundations appear, for they as being desirous to make them on a level with the narrow streets of the city; wherein they made use of stones of forty cubits in magnitude; for the great plenty of money they then had, and the liberality of the people, made this attempt of theirs to succeed to an incredible degree;
The foundation stones of the southwest corner was built to the bottom of the Tyropeon valley. Josephus says the wall altogether was 300 cubits (450 feet from foundation stones to the top of the wall). The reason we can know this is speaking of the Tyropeon valley and not the Kidron valley is because he said the foundation stones were laid on the bedrock but, only the upper portions showed because Herod (grandson) had filled in the valley to bring it up to the level of the narrow streets of the city. THERE ARE NO CITY STREETS IN THE KIDRON VALLEY and it was never filled in.
(Although it is generally felt that Josephus exaggerated the height of some of the walls, towers, etc. as a mater of pride for the purpose of making it all greater than that of the Romans and Greeks.)
Josephus said that the lower courts were built last, this
of course included the Royal Stoa.
Those Terraced Compartments of Solomon's Stables are now a Muslim Mosque
Muslim's have dug
the pit and revealed the terraced rooms below the surface.
Here are photos of a pit the Muslims have dug to expose the upper level of the terraced rooms under the ground, and some of the rubble being removed from it. Perhaps sections of Herod's famous columns. They are making the underground structures into places of worship to Allah.