It was reported today that another quarry has been found in Jerusalem, whose stones may have been used in the construction of Herod’s Temple Mount. The largest stone is said to measure 0.69 x 0.94 x 1.65 m. It has been suggested that these stones may have been used to build the Western Wall, but that is doubtful. The measurements given are of an unfinished stone. These quarry blocks needed trimming to make them suitable for building and that would make them smaller. The average height of the stone courses in the Temple Mount walls is 104-112 cm and the unfinished stone is only 94 cm high. It is possible, however, that stones coming from this quarry may have been used for the buildings and porticoes that stood on top of the Temple Mount and that is very exciting.
Last year, a quarry was found which produced much larger stones and these may indeed have been used in the construction of the Temple Mount walls. Although archaeologists are quick to claim that these stones were used in the Western Wall, we need to realize that identical stones were built in the southern, eastern and northern walls of the Temple Mount as well. There is no way of knowing where the stones of these quarries have been placed.
The two illustrations below show how it was done.
Quarrying was done by digging channels in the rock, which were later filled with dry wooden beams. Once these were wedged into place, water was poured over the dry wood, causing it to swell. The expanding wood caused the stone to split off the quarry bed.
Projections were left on either side of the stones, which were used to lift the stones sufficiently high to put a roller underneath. Using oxen and replacing the rollers, the stones were brought to the building site.
One can see how much work was involved in the quarrying and transportation of one stone! It is amazing to realize that it took only eight years to build all the retaining walls of the Temple Mount. Truly, whatever one might say about Herod’s character, he was a master builder!