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The Great Halls Under the Al Aksa Mosque
The Muslims believe that these ruins are from the old wooden mosque built by Omar in 638 AD. But I find it strange that none of it is made of wood
THE DOUBLE GATE
These are the ruins that lay deep underground beneath the Muslim mosque, al-Aksa, located at the south end, (not the Dome of the Rock) of the Temple Mount.
Some people, after AD 70, created these passageways under the Temple Mount, perhaps the returning Jews of the 4th century, before an earthquake which put an end to the work.
I think I am beginning to understand the Chulda gates (called double gate) and the double passages behind it. The first 190 feet is a strip of the temple platform from south to north; which included the south inner gate of the inner sanctuary, and the north inner gate of the sanctuary. (The Azarah was the sacred walled in area that contained the inner gates, the men's court and the Priest's court, the Altar, and of course the Temple.)
I don't think we can call it a coincidence that these ruins seem to fit the design of the Old Temple complex.
Charles Wilson, an early explorer of the Temple Mount in the 1800s, found the ruins to be very confusing because of the mix of courses of stone.
Some of the lower level of stones are very old but the upper courses (layers) of the passageway were built after the time of the temple destruction of 70 AD. But there are also Herod stones in the passageway, and huge columns dating to the time of Herod that have been recycled in the building of these passageways.
These are definitely not the ruins of a wooden mosque.
Below are Wilson and Warren's description of the ruins under the mosque are at the bottom of this page under the heading of Double Gate.
Description of what lays under the Southern Mosque with Pictures:
The entrance to the subterranean passages leading to the Double Gateway is at the foot of a flight of steps immediately in front of the al-Aksa, (on the Temple Mount) and is called by the Moslems Bab-al-Aksa-al-Kadim (the Gate of the old Aksa). At the end of the passage next to the gateway is a vestibule which appears to have undergone several changes at different periods.
"At the "double gateway," a portion only (5 feet 8 inches) of which is seen, further progress is stopped by a wall running southwards; but, entering the city, part of the ornamental arch over the western door is found in a vault of the Khatuniyeh, and thence the southern boundary of the Haram may be traced to the south-west angle. The construction of the "double gateway" will be better examined from the interior; but here it may be noticed that adjoining the relieving arch over the lintel of the eastern door is the Antonine inscription built into the wall upside down, most of the letters still retain their sharpness, and with the aid of a magnifying glass may be read from the photograph; they are shown in Sketch 5, Plate XI.
("The fact that the inscription is upside down tells us that whoever built the wall from the top of the arch upward had no regard for this inscription, a dedication stone, in honor of reigned as emperor from 138 until 161 A.D.. That means this stone was not built into the south wall by the Romans nor by Herod. )
Illustration of Double Gate when first rebuilt sometime after the Temple of Jupiter was torn down in 225 AD.
"The two entrances of the Double Gateway are separated
by a pier on which rest the ends of the
two large lintels (horizontal stone over the doorway) which
cover the openings; above the lintels are relieving arches and over these
a cornice; each lintel is further supported by two columns, the height
of which being too short for the purpose has been increased by placing
blocks of stone on the gateway, and immediately under the lintels, are
two ornamented arches, forming no part of the wall, but simply fastened
on to it with metal clamps; it is a very clumsy piece of work and now almost
falling; the style of decoration of the arch and cornice is the same as
that of the Golden Gateway. In Photog. a; page 13, the construction of
the eastern entrance can be seen."
Quote; In the western wall of the vestibule there is a recess, said by the Mosque attendant to be the entrance to the tomb of Aaron's sons, shown in Al-Aksa; it appears more like a hole broken into a solid mass of masonry, than an original gateway, but is so covered with plaster and whitewash that an opening closed with masonry would escape notice.
In the western wall of the vestibule there is an old doorway leading into a small chamber, called the "Place of Elias" the door is covered by a lintel and small relieving arch, and on the jambs are seen holes for the bolts used in closing it; at the back of the little chamber there is apparently another door, now walled up, the head of which is covered by a very primitive style of arch.
Quote: Leaving the vestibule by a flight of steps which leads up to the western passage, the end of the eastern one being a wall of solid masonry formed of stones with drafted margins, both passages are found to have a slight ascent towards the steps which lead up to the Haram area.
At a distance of 17 feet 5 inches from the head of the steps there appears to be a small closed doorway in the western wall. The masonry of the sides of the two passages from the steps to opposite the third pier from the engaged column seems to be "in situ," but from thence to the entrance it is of a mixed character; the batter is obtained here by setting the courses back 4 inches as shown in sketch. The covering arches are semicircular and well built.
Below is the artists rendition of what he believed the passageway looked like when it was first built.
Quote: The ascent from the double gateway to the Haram level must have originally been much more rapid, as in examining the water supply it was found that the conduit connecting the "Well of the Leaf" (#9 cistern) with the other cisterns and so with the aqueduct from the Pools of Solomon, had been cut through when the ground was lowered to form the present passage; the two opposite ends of the conduit are seen in the east and west walls, close to the Mihrab near the entrance. No water runs from the pools at present, but a shallow drain under the floor of the passage carries some of the surface drainage of the area into the cistern; this conduit is covered with large flat stones and runs into the shaft of the "Well of the Leaf." No trace of steps having once been built into either eastern or western walls could be found.
UNDER DOUBLE GATE HALLS
Recently photographs from 1927 have been released that show a Jewish mikveh (bath) under the Al Aqsa Mosque.
It is located somewhere beneath the double passage halls below the Al Aqsa Mosque. Notice the measuring rod and ladder on the floor of this Mikveh, which shows its immense size. In my theory this could possibly be the Mikveh that would have been located under the Chamber of the Hearth.
Notice the comment on the photo says Cistern A.
Which may indicate that there is at least a Cistern B.
"We theorized in October that the American Colony photographer
gained access to the area under the al Aqsa Mosque, partially destroyed
in the 1927 earthquake. Nadav Shragai, a scholar on Jerusalem sites, reported
in a Yisrael HaYom article last year, that Robert Hamilton, director of
the British Mandate Antiquities Authority, had explored under the mosque
at the time. He "photographed, sketched, excavated and analyzed" what he
saw. But he 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." israeldailypicture.com
The upper street platform also had hollows under it, with rooms used for storage and other things. From the inner court the Priests entered the hollow by lifting a marble slab. In the North gate near the threshold there was a black slate slab that was also an entrance to these hollows, or vaults.
m. Para 3.3: "The Temple Mount and the Temple Courts had a hollow space beneath them in case there was a grave in the depths".
More info on Double Gate Halls/Passageways
There is a curious piece of unsymmetrical workmanship in the roofing of the vestibule which has an unpleasing effect, it is that the most northern of the arches carrying the small domes does not spring from the pilasters but from the wall and rests on the engaged column, instead of the pier, as shown in sketch. The material used in making the domes has been taken from other buildings. No trace of joints could be found in the monolithic columns, they, as well as the pier in the gateway, are of "malaki" stone, and have suffered considerably from time and weather. The columns, capitals, and sides of the vestibule are covered with thick whitewash.
Below is another description of the Double Gate.
The Double Gate can be approached from within the Temple Mount courtyard, at the north-east corner of the EI-Aksa Mosque. Sixteen stairs and a double gallery lead down to a hall whose ceiling is supported by a row of gigantic pillars. From here one can see the arches in the southern wall of the Temple Mount. This underground structure is known as EI-Aksa el-Qadima, or Baq'at el-Baida. The Double Gate is now walled up. The gate is largely concealed on the outside by a later building; it is 12.8 m wide.
Tunnels and aqueducts were found underneath the Double and Triple Gates, and a drain ran under the halls.
(The passage-way of this gate) is ten ells broad (37.5 feet), and the height varies by reason of the steps; in one place it is five ells high (19 feet), and in others the roof of the passage-way is twenty ells above you (75 feet).
Double Passages recorded by Warren:
At the north end of the double passage, to the east, there is a vestibule or vaulted chamber 17 feet square: its arch is similar in construction to that of the northern part of the double passage. It may perhaps have been built to serve as a guard-room or porter’s lodge to the gate.
Entrance to the "Tomb of Aaron's Sons, " at
south end of double passage below the Aksa. —" Within the gate I have
removed the stones and examined the passage through the wall; it is about
10 feet 6 inches thick, and very rough on the inside. It is backed up with
earth. I do not see any signs of the continuation of vaults or buildings
the west of this passage: this is an important negative discovery."
"The conclusion I have come to after making these
excavations is that the "Double Passage " is a tunnel built through
the made earth of the Haram Area, and quite unconnected with any vaults
on either side. I can only account for
the (water )
ducts I have found to the west of it by
supposing that at one time the passage only extended for 190 feet from
the south wall of the enclosure, and that the ducts were used for collecting
the surface water. When the Aksa was built, it appears that the passage
was extended to its present length (260
feet), but on the east side only,
as a heavy mass of masonry supporting a considerable portion of the Mosque
rests just where the western passage should come; also, it appears that
in order to prevent the arch of this extended passage (eastern
one) cropping up above the Haram surface,
it was necessary to cut down the old ramp to a gentle slope, and by that
means to cut through the duct leading to the Well of the Leaf. I find
there is a break in the arch of the eastern passage just where the western
terminates, and the ramp at that point also changes its inclination.
The buried ruins of these inner (upper) gates were rebuilt into an underground passage sometime after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. I believe it might have been the Jews that were allowed to return in 360-363 AD to rebuild the Temple that built these passages. Sections of the Men's (Israeli) court, old inner gates, and Solomon's North gate are included it the double passageways. The Temple platform lay deep underground at that time making it impossible to rebuild, but they could build a place to worship.
For those that believe that these passages under the Mosque were tunnels built in Herod's time for the purpose of entering the upper Mount, where is your proof in the old writings? There is no mention of tunnels anywhere. How could there be, since these tunnels were built after the destruction of the Temple, as per Warren and Wilson's information.
Charles Warren's Map of the Mount and with my Temple Diagram it is easy to see where the temple and this court were located and what used to be where the passages are now.
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