Your shopping cart is empty
Visit the shop
About RADRitmeyer Archaeological Design began in 1983, producing posters and booklets as a response to the demand for educational materials on the subject of Biblical Archaeology. Since then, it has not only greatly expanded its product range, but grown into a firm that offers consultancy on archaeological background and illustration to groups as diverse as Hollywood movie companies, National Geographic, the ESV Study Bible and the new GLO Bible study computer program.
Leen Ritmeyer's Twitter Stream
The Twitter REST API v1 is no longer active. Please migrate to API v1.1. https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/overview.followers
The next drawing in our series on the development of Mount Moriah shows the Temple Mount in the Hasmonean period (see below). However, we will first describe some preliminary stages in its expansion, which took place during the Hellenistic period. The Bible, apart from the book of Daniel, is virtually silent about the inter-testamental period. However, the works of Josephus and the Apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the two Books of the Maccabees provide much information.
Josephus records in Ant.11.325–339 a visit to the Temple by Alexander the Great after his capture of Gaza in 332 BC. Here, the Jewish historian has him sacrificing in the Temple under the guidance of the High Priest.
Although this may be mere legend, the story points to the perpetuation of the Temple services following their revival after the return from exile in Babylon. After the death of Alexander, Judea was governed by the Ptolemies of Egypt, who were tolerant of Jewish religious practice.
Around the end of the third century BC, restoration work was carried out on the Temple Mount by the High Priest Simon, son of Onias. According to the apocryphal work of Ben Sira called Ecclesiasticus (50.1–3), the work is described as follows:
It was the High Priest Simon son of Onias who repaired the Temple during his lifetime and in his day fortified the sanctuary. He laid the foundations of the double height, the high buttresses of the Temple precincts. In his day the water cistern was excavated, a reservoir as huge as the sea.
It is clear from the text that the bulk of these works consisted of the repair and strengthening of the temple and other existing structures. In the reconstruction drawing of the Temple Mount below we have shown the buttresses that were added to stabilise the Temple.
Control of the city of Jerusalem was won from the Ptolemies by the Greek Seleucids from Syria in around 200 BC . The Seleucid dynasty was determined to force the Jews to accept Hellenism. It was the sacrifice of a pig on the Temple altar by the Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes, mentioned in Daniel 11.29-31, that sparked off the revolt by the Maccabee brothers. Their bloodline evolved into the Hasmonean dynasty that established an independent Jewish state lasting from 164 to 63 BC.
The consecration of the Temple in 164 BC is still celebrated today by the Jewish feast of Hanukkah.
- In 141 BC, Simon the Maccabee demolished the hated Akra, a fortress that the Seleucids had built to the south of the Temple Mount so that a Macedonian garrison could control the Jewish population.
Simon then leveled the mountain on which it was built and incorporated the whole area into the Temple Mount complex:
After this extension to the south, the Temple was no longer square in shape and the original Mount Moriah was now almost completely built over. The Hasmonean southeast corner can be seen in the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount at the so-called seam.
Following the Maccabean rebellion, a fortress was constructed at the northwest corner of the square Temple Mount, to defend the mount against attacks from the north. It was called the Baris. When Herod the Great later extended the Temple Mount to the north, he dismantled the Hasmonean Baris and built a fortress, called the Antonia Fortress, that stood at the northwest corner of the new Temple Mount.
Continuing our series on the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount, we have now arrived at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. In the Post-Exilic period, the returnees from Babylon first built the altar and then laid the foundations of the Second Temple (536 BC). There is no reason to doubt that these foundations followed the same orientation as the temple being replaced, as the foundation trenches were preserved in the Rock (as they are to this day). Due to the opposition of the local population, it took twenty years to complete the building of which we are told that it was 60 cubits high and wide, presumably referring to the dimensions of the façade.
Later on, during the time of Nehemiah, the city walls were restored as recorded in Nehemiah Chapter 3:
Below is the fifth drawing in the series of Mount Moriah that shows the Temple Mount in the Post-Exilic period with the walls of the original square Temple Mount restored (the first in this series was Mount Moriah itself, followed by the mount during the times of the Jebusites, Solomon and Hezekiah).
A few months ago, we updated our Jerusalem in the Time of Nehemiah book. It was very popular and the first of our books to be sold out completely. The new edition which is now available from our website, has been updated with digital photographs, some by Nathaniel Ritmeyer, and also with new drawings. The above mentioned reconstruction drawing of the Temple built by Jeshua and Zerubbabel has been included, together with new drawings of Jerusalem at that time.
We are still waiting for our Temple Mount guide book to be published and also the revised Jerusalem in 30 AD . The original version of the latter book was based on our slide set (now discontinued) which we produced in the 1990’s. This book also soId out. The latest edition has new digital photographs and an additional section on the Palace of Queen Helena of Adiabene. Although ready for publication, the publishers are waiting for tourism to pick up after the recent unrest in Jerusalem.
The next drawing in our series dealing with the development of Mount Moriah and the Temple Mount shows what it would have looked like in the time of the later kings of Judah.
The first and original drawing showed what the mount looked like before anything was built on it. The next one showed Mount Moriah during the time of the Jebusites. This was followed by a drawing of Solomon’s Temple complex.
From the Hebrew Bible we know that Hezekiah (725–697 BC) was a good king, but he lived in difficult times. The Assyrians under Sennacherib had invaded the northern part of the country and many refugees had fled to Jerusalem and settled on the Western Hill of Jerusalem, as the Eastern Hill was already bursting at the seams.
Archaeology has given us a great insight into the kingship of Hezekiah, and has shown that he was one of the greatest builders Jerusalem has ever seen. In the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem one can visit the Broad Wall (mentioned later on in Nehemiah 12.38) that was built by Hezekiah to protect the new settlement. The excavations have shown that some houses had been dismantled to make room for this massive 7m (23ft) wide wall that encircled the Western Hill. This building work is mentioned in Isaiah 22.10, “you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you broke down the houses to fortify the wall.”
Another great work mentioned in Isa. 22.11 is the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah diverted the waters from the Gihon Spring and “sent” them through an underground tunnel to the Siloam Pool (Siloam – shiloah in Hebrew – means “sent”). One of the most exciting experiences one can have in Jerusalem is to walk through this ancient tunnel.
Hezekiah also embarked on a major rebuilding program of the Temple, as reflected in the second and later account of the Temple construction in 2 Chronicles 3–4. We believe that this text describes a virtually new and much larger Temple built by Hezekiah.
In this passage, the two columns of the Porch are described as being 35 cubits high in contrast to a height of 18 cubits mentioned in 1 Kings 7. Instead of the three-story-high wooden construction that was built around Solomon’s Temple, there is now an Upper Chamber above the original sanctuary. Other differences between the two descriptions show that Hezekiah not only rebuilt Solomon’s Temple, but also redesigned it. Nevertheless, this Temple is still referred to as the First Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
har habbayit. This measurement of 500 cubits has been preserved in the text of Mishnah Middot 2.1: “The Temple Mount (har habbayit) measured five hundred cubits by five hundred cubits.”
Soon to be published, Leen & Kathleen Ritmeyer’s JERUSALEM – THE TEMPLE MOUNT is a peaceful ecumenical book intended for Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all those for whom the Temple Mount has special meaning. The authors endeavor to afford each and every visitor or reader an opportunity to acquaint himself with, relate to and contemplate sites that may resonate for him when reading Holy Scripture.
Carta emphasises that this guide book is not only for visitors to Jerusalem, but also for those travellers who wish to acquaint themselves with this unique site from afar.
This guide is also meant for all those who have already seen or read about the marvels of the world – be it the Niagara Falls in North America, the ancient Inca Temples in South America, the Great Wall of China, the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the great pyramids and sphinx of Egypt, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – but have yet to visit Jerusalem. All are invited to . . . Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord. . . (Isaiah 2:3).
To those who wrote directly in advance enquiring about the publication date, they wrote:
We at Carta appreciate your interest and are grateful for your intent to purchase Ritmeyer’s latest work once it is available. Publication of JERUSALEM THE TEMPLE MOUNT has been delayed, heeding . . . a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Given the current regrettable spate of incidents in Jerusalem, Ritmeyer’s Interfaith Guide, which relates in great detail – and separately – to specific sites of interest to Jews and Christians, not only Muslims, deserves better timing, hopefully ahead of the festival season.
As storm clouds gather over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, we continue with our series on the development of Mount Moriah.
In our previous post, we talked about the locations of the Altar and the Holy of Holies. What happened after David built the Altar? After ruling seven years in Hebron, he made Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The first thing he did was bring the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-jearim to Jerusalem, the City of David. There it rested, presumably in a tent in the grounds of David’s palace, until circa 967 BC .
The Ark was then moved into the new temple that was built on Mount Moriah by Solomon, the son of David.
This sacred compound was surrounded by a wall that formed the Temple court.
On the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10), the Ascent which Solomon built from this complex up to the Temple, was one of the things that inspired her awe.
For those of you who are interested, Carta very much hope to publish our guide book to the Temple Mount at the earliest propitious moment.
The first drawing in this series showed Mount Moriah itself.
The second drawing shows the Temple Mount in the time of the Jebusites.
The next drawing of Mount Moriah that was prepared for our new Temple Mount Guide Book (and now available in our Image Library) shows what the mount would have looked like in the Jebusite period. Araunah the Jebusite was the last pre-Israelite ruler of Jerusalem, or Jebus, as it was then called. At the end of the second millennium BC, the mountain was used for growing wheat and barley, as attested to by the reference to the threshing floor of Araunah in 1 Chronicles 21.15. After God had brought a plague on Israel, the angel of the Lord, who was about to destroy Jerusalem, told King David to build an altar on the threshing floor.
But where exactly was that threshing floor? Was it on the very top of Mount Moriah, i.e. on the Rock (Sakhra) now located inside the Dome of the Rock, or elsewhere? Many people believe the altar built by Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac was situated on top of the Rock and that later the Temple altars were built there.
We have shown, however, that the Rock was the Foundation Stone for the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple and all subsequent Temples and not the location of the altar.
We are told that the angel in 1 Chron. 21.16 was standing on higher ground, between heaven and earth as it were. That place was most likely the peak of Mount Moriah and the subsequent sanctity of the Rock is therefore derived from the presence of the angel.
The threshing floor must have been on lower ground to the east, to exploit the prevailing westerly winds to separate the chaff from the grain. Threshing floors are never located on the very top of mountains, as the strong westerly wind would blow away both chaff and grain, but always on lower ground, usually on the eastern side.
Jewish tradition maintains that David’s altar was built (c. 980 BC) on the same place that Abraham had erected his altar in preparation for the sacrifice of Isaac, before God intervened. Based on the relationship between Herod’s Temple and the Rock inside the Dome of the Rock, the altar would have been located just east of the Dome of the Chain, as depicted in this photograph:
The first drawing of Mount Moriah appeared here.
The next drawing in this series is the Temple Mount during the time of Solomon.
We were excited to learn that Jerusalem the Movie won the 2014 Giant Screen Achievement Award.
Taran Davies, George Duffield and Daniel Ferguson, the producers wrote:
“We are honored to have won these prestigious awards and grateful to the hundreds of people who worked tirelessly to make this extraordinary film, which celebrates the ancient city of Jerusalem like you’ve never seen it before.”
We are very pleased for them and remember how privileged we felt to have been asked to participate in the production of this great movie.
Our Image Library contains reconstruction drawings of Jerusalem in the various periods. I made different versions of them for the ESV Study Bible and for the Chronological Life Application Study Bible.
However, when compiling our latest book, a Guide Book to the Temple Mount (forthcoming), a new set of drawings was necessary, the focus this time being on how Mount Moriah developed over time. The series begins with a drawing of the topography of Mount Moriah:
In the succeeding days, we will feature the following drawings of Mount Moriah in the historical periods from the Jebusites till the Early Muslim period.
Today, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed the “Rare Archaeological Find from the History of Jerusalem”, which we mentioned in yesterday’s blog post. It turns out to be a Roman inscription dating from 129/130 AD. It was dedicated by the 10th Legion (Fretensis ) to Hadrian, the Roman Emperor who rebuilt Jerusalem in 135 AD and renamed it Aelia Capitolina.
According to a report in Arutz Sheva, the inscription may be among “the most important Latin inscriptions ever discovered in Jerusalem.” The stone was found in secondary use as part of the cover of a deep cistern, hence the semi-circular hole that allowed the drawing of water.
The stone that bears the inscription is actually the second part of an original inscription. The first part had already been discovered in Jerusalem by Clermont-Ganneau in the middle of the 19th century and is exhibited in the courtyard of the Studium Biblicum Fransciscanum Museum on the Via Dolorosa just inside the Lions (St. Stephen’s) Gate:Putting the two inscriptions together, the complete inscription reads:
”To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country (dedicated by) the 10th legion Fretensis Antoniniana.”
After the Roman destruction of 70 A.D., the 10th Legion set up an encampment south of the Hippicus Tower on the Western Hill of Jerusalem. After nationalistic uprisings, Hadrian flattened the city and in 135 A.D. built a new one on its ruins and called it Aelia Capitolina.
The major buildings are the Damascus Gate in the north, a Temple of Aphrodite, two forums (market places) and there may have been a Temple of Jupiter on the Temple Mount.
A new drawing of the Temple Mount during the time of Aelia Capitolina has been made for our new guide book:
Some historical sources indicate that during this Roman period, a sanctuary to Jupiter was erected on the Temple Mount as were two dedicatory columns with statues of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. The remains of three long steps that are no longer visible but were marked on Warren’s plans, may have belonged to the southern part of the crepidoma (stepped platform) of this presumed temple. Jews were forbidden from entering the city on pain of death and Hadrian tried further to erase their connection to the Land by changing the name of Judea to Syria Palaestina (whence the name Palestine).
This drawing is one in the series that shows the history of Mount Moriah in the different historical phases starting at the time of Abraham. In future posts we will refer to other drawings in this series.