Discovering Jerusalem of the time of Jesus

Yesterday we reported on an article about “Roman Jerusalem”. In today’s Jerusalem Post, there is a similar article, this time about Jerusalem of the time of Jesus.

This well illustrated article describes the remains of several Herodian villas which were excavated by the late Prof. Nahman Avigad and subsequently restored and opened to the public. It has been suggested that the largest villa, called the Palatial Mansion, may have been the residence of the High Priest at that time.

This is a perspective reconstruction drawing of the 6,500 sq. feet (600m2) residence dating from the Second Temple period found in the Jewish Quarter excavations in Jerusalem. Known as the Palatial Mansion because of its unusually large size, it is now part of the restored Herodian Quarter. Its overall plan, centred round a paved courtyard, makes it clear that it was one living unit and not divided into smaller residences. The fact that this major structure, which from the sumptuousness of its fittings makes it worthy of the term "palace", contains four ritual baths, one evidently built to serve a number of people with one door for entry and one for exit, is notable. This, coupled with the traces of a great conflagration found in the Palatial Mansion, point to a possible identification of this residence with the palace of Annas, the High Priest. In War 2.426, Josephus records Annas’ Palace as having been burnt in 70 A.D. © Leen Ritmeyer

One thought on “Discovering Jerusalem of the time of Jesus”

  1. I was re reading your discussion with Nietzer about the location of the Antonia, and realized their was another major issue.
    The seemingly accepted time line is that Herod first built the Antonia and then later expanded the Temple platform.
    However to tear down the Baris and more it NW to the Antonia means it would no longer adjoin the Temple courts. Both the Northern Wall and the Western Walls are fixed – located by their relationship to the Antonia. ( The Western Wall imperfectly therefore the 10 ft. offset. That would suggest the Western wall was after the Antonia. )

    There are several possible reconciliations.
    The expansions were planed and begun before Herod became King. The numbers of pilgrims had greatly increased since the Hasmonean expansion on the South. The Northern Wall was begun and the fosse and other fill in process. This means Herod only needed to cut a new fosse and build the tower. The elimination of the Baris and the fosse destroy the defenses on the north something has to be done.
    After Herod executed the Sanhedrin, their sons would have inherited the positions. If Herod authorized the continuation of the building project and expanded it, that would have meant income and power to the replacement Sanhedrin. It would have gone a long way to ensuring their cooperation. ( Machiavelli in “The Prince” underscored the difference between executing a Duke and taking his castle and executing a Duke and letting the heirs obtain it. The first leads to the downfall of the prince the second does not. )
    The alternative is that Herod built two Antonias.

    The full support of the Sanhedrin is necessary for the purchase of all the valuable properties for the western and southern expansions. The money this meant for their purses would have encouraged their support.

    Side issue: Solomon’s stables extend across the Hasmonean S Wall. The only explanation I can think of is that when the Herodian wall was to be built there the fill behind the wall was pushing the wall over. The builders decided to remove the Hasmonean wall and lighten the load by inserting the void.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *