Beneath (and around) the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount): Some 19th century views

Here are four wonderful depictions of areas situated around and underneath the Herodian Temple Mount. They are by the British artist William “Crimea” Simpson who, after gaining fame documenting that conflict, took up with the Palestine Exploration Fund on their work in the Holy Land starting  in the 1860s.

The first scene is of the interior of the “Double Gate” in the south wall, a space that today is part of the Marwani Mosque beneath the Haram/Temple Mount platform. The massive columns pictured have now been surrounded and almost obscured by tall reinforcing structures. Visitors to the mosque arrive via the left-hand passage, which still – 2,000 years later – descends from the surface of the platform.

This illustration shows the use of archaeological shafts by the PEF (from which they then drove horizontal tunnels), the only method of excavation allowed them by the Ottoman authorities. I believe this shows Charles Warren’s intrepid colleague Sgt. Birtles descending amid the tumbled Herodian ashlars at the southwest corner of the TM (where, as the story goes, they unknowingly cut through the stone bearing the iconic “Place of the Trumpeting” inscription)…

Here is a PEF explorer (Warren?) during the clearing of a vaulted drainage tunnel (penetrated by a huge tumbled ashlar!)  beneath the Herodian street below Robinson’s Arch. This is the same channel that in recent years has been cleared, and opened to visitors, all the way south to the Siloam Pool. (For the story of how the stone got there, see my subsequent post)…

Finally, the vast spaces of the so-called Great Sea, largest of the many cisterns hewn into the bedrock beneath the platform. It was very likely supplied by the Jerusalem’s Upper Aqueduct, the water coming all the way from Solomon’s Pools (and beyond)…

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4 Responses to Beneath (and around) the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount): Some 19th century views

  1. I’ve always loved these…thanks for posting them.

  2. Cynthia Thompson says:

    Tom, have you been below the mosque to actually see what is there today? It would be such a privilege to see this.

  3. sir Bulwer Lytton of the rosacrucian order says:

    It’s really amazing an underground city under jeruslam. I suppose hides an entrance to Agharti.

    • Tom Powers says:

      Um… Whatever you say. [Agartha (sometimes Agartta, Agharti, Agarta or Agarttha) is a legendary city that is said to reside in the earth’s core. It is related to the belief in a hollow earth and is a popular subject in esotericism. Source: Wikipedia]

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