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.
How were stones quarried? I have written extensively about the quarrying and transportation of these large stones in The Quest, pp. 132-137 and also in Secrets of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, pp. 53-58.
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!
4 thoughts on “Temple Mount quarry found”
Wow. Dr. Ritmeyer, I’m in awe. I just discovered this through Professor Bolen’s site. I wish I could buy and read all of your books, before asking this question. I hope you won’t find it too ignorant…
I think it was Wycherley’s “How the Greeks Built Cities” that first surprised me with the idea that most ancient streets and the floors of most homes remained unpaved, packed earth. And so my question is: have you done any research on that as it applies to the Temple Courts being Court”yards”?
I did a post on this topic this morning, and having since perused your blog I must leap at this timing. Will you please come and comment on the feasibility of my hypothesis? I freely admit as an amateur that may be all it is, but even if you’ll at least stop by, I’ll be thrilled. 🙂
I should also say it was merely my studies in NT chronology that led me to even consider the Temple Mount as a topic itself. (I was summarizing events of the year 4 BC.) But I mention this here just to admit I know less than very little about NT Archaeology. So I really do hope you’ll forgive whatever rough edges I’m certain my posts will display. 🙂
You may also be able to set me straight, if need be, on my post of last night regarding the pre-construction phase of Herod’s Temple.
This takes html, I trust? Here’s the dirt and the prep-work.
You may also enjoy my other sites, as well. I’d be pleased to receive any any feedback or helpful critique you can offer.
I remain in awe of your body of work. And so very grateful for any bits of your time.
Thanks so much. ‘See you’ soon.
An inscription has been found dating to about 17 B.C. mentioning a donation for a pavement on the Temple Mount, see our “Secrets of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount”, pp. 11-21.
Other archaeological evidence shows that the street below Robinson’s Arch was not paved until about 54 A.D.
It appears therefore that the Temple Mount area was paved early on in the construction, but that the streets of Jerusalem were paved later.
Thank you, Sir! “Secrets of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount” will be in my hands on Thursday. Is there a published work you can refer me to regarding the paving of the Tyropoean valley road? I have several thoughts and questions about the details of your reply, but I’ll make sure I do my homework fully, before asking.
Thank you so very, very much for your feedback and help. And once again, thank you for doing all this work! I look forward to getting your books and (hopefully) to further discussion.
The book is excellent, your drawings are exquisite and I found the introductory “Tour” chapter to be delightful as well as comprehensive. I look forward to finishing the rest more carefully.
For now, this comment is merely in response to the pages you cited above: The evidence is definitely strong, and of course you must be right that it can only refer to the time period of Herod the Great. However, as I see the inscription is fragmentary with just 7 words in 5 lines and the word translated “for the pavement” is isolated on the 4th line… I have to wonder.
Isn’t it at least possible that this merely paid for the paving of the sanctuary instead of the entire courtyard?
I’d be thankful if you might be open to corresponding more privately by e-mail on my other questions about paving in Jerusalem and paving in general, because I really don’t intend to _keep_ hijacking your posts like this.
Please understand, I know I could never in a million years even begin to do all the work you’ve put together. So I will consider it a great honor indeed if you’ll take some time on this and then revisit my blog post on the courtyard whenever you have the time.
Thanks again for your graciousness so far…