Lest you think all that we did in Israel was enjoy the beautiful scenery, today I thought I’d share some of the historic and religiously significant places that we visited while in Jerusalem. The first of course being the Western Wall – the remaining wall of the support walls that were built surrounding the Temple Mount and the First and Second Temples. In Hebrew, this section of the wall is known as the Kotel.
Another day that we visited:
The history of this wall and the Temple that once stood above it became one of the themes of our trip as we visited a few places where we learned all about everything that took place there. One of the places that we visited did not allow photos – The Temple Institute, which teaches visitors about the past and has the goal of rebuilding the Temple in the future. As you saw in the photos above, currently the Muslim site, the Dome of the Rock, is built on the Temple Mount. The Holy of Holies, which is the site we believe many pivotal events happened in Jewish history, is also a Muslim holy site. The Wakf, the Muslim authority that has control of the Temple Mount, has restricted Jewish visitors from praying there, although the law does allow Jews to visit and it is possible to visit according to Jewish law. Many Jewish people do visit the Temple Mount, but another way to get close to the Holy of Holies is by visiting the Kotel Tunnels, the excavated area under the rest of the Western Wall.
We also were able to take part in the Temple Mount Sifting Project – a project in which people can help sift through the dirt that was removed from the Temple Mount in order to find artifacts that otherwise would have been discarded.
“Every bucket of earth that is sifted contains fragments of pottery, glass vessels, metal objects, bones, worked stones and mosaic tesserae stones. These are the most frequent finds from the Temple Mount. The finds are dated mainly to the First Temple Period and onwards (10th century BCE till today). There are some finds from earlier periods, but they are scarce. In addition to these general categories, there are numerous finds of many kinds: fragments of stone vessels, approximately 5,000 ancient coins, various pieces of jewelry, a rich assortment of beads, terracotta figurines, arrowheads and other weaponry, weights, items of clothing, game pieces and dice, bone and shell inlays, furniture decorations, ornaments, bone tools, etc. Fragments of elaborate architectural members from buildings, among them are pillars, architraves, mosaic floors, opus sectile tiles (see below), colored wall plaster (fresco), and glazed wall tiles.
The finds are carefully sorted and studied in the project’s archaeological laboratory, and once the processing and analysis are finished, this data will help to provide fresh insights into the archaeological and historical research of the Temple Mount.”
The Sifting Project takes place outside of the Old City Walls:
The kids really seemed to get a lot about learning the history of our historic and religious places and I’m so glad that they got to experience them!