Voice of Israel interview

Kathleen and I were recently interviewed by Eve Harow of the Voice of Israel. She runs a special program called “Rejuvenation with Eve Harow”.

Eve Harow

Eve is a long-time community activist and tour guide from the Judean hills. Her extensive work in Israel advocacy has taken her all over the world. Each week she discusses archaeology, nature and interviews Israelis on current events in the Middle East and the Jewish world.

In the wake of the publication of our guidebook to the Temple Mount, she wanted to know how we got involved with the archaeology of Jerusalem and especially that of the Temple Mount. Our part of the interview, called “Preserving the Holy” was broadcast on April 5th and can be listened to here.

“The Ultimate Guide to an Ultimate Site”

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount

Yesterday we received the first copies of our guide book to the Temple Mount. It has 160 pages and 184 illustrations and weighs only 350 grams (12 ounces). It measures 20.8 x 14.3 x 1 cm (8.1 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches), which is a handy size to carry around with you and would fit easily in a large pocket or small bag. It is now possible to order our guide book directly from our website. The cost is US$25.00 or UK£17.00 plus postage.

We hope and feel sure that our book will enhance your visit to the Temple Mount and deepen your understanding of the fascinating history of this important site!

 

 

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta guide book

We promised to report on our new: “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount – A Carta Guide Book”.  Incredibly, this is the first true guide book to the Temple Mount to be published since 1925, when the Supreme Muslim Council published their 12-page Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif. In 2006 we published The Quest, Revealing the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is an academic work, but written and illustrated in such a way as to be accessible to scholars and laymen alike, detailing every nook and cranny of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Our new guide book is completely different from The Quest. It has many new evocative reconstructive illustrations and is designed to help visitors understand what they are looking at, but is also invaluable for the person who cannot visit the Temple Mount in the flesh, but whose spirit is very much there.

In the Preface we wrote:

It is the authors’ sincere hope that this profusely illustrated guide book to the Temple Mount will help you to fully savor the experience of visiting a site that is truly without parallel and be embraced by its aura of power and sanctity. It is the culmination of years of academic work distilled into a user-friendly manual whose aim is to make the dry facts and stones come alive. If it can help you make this complex site more accessible and find your own personal spots for reflection, it will have fulfilled our vision. Each of the six distinct areas connected to the Temple Mount is preceded by a “Useful Information” section. Each route has its own detailed tour map. Of course, the tours can be done in whatever order you choose to do them in, including or omitting as you like.

Map of the 6 color coded areas

1. The Western Wall – Experience the Wall at the heart of Jerusalem (blue)

2. The Western Wall Tunnels – Follow the wall hidden in darkness (red)

3. Jerusalem Archaeological Park – Walk in the Park around the Southern Wall (brown)

4. The Eastern Wall – Deciphering the Puzzle of the Oldest of the Temple Mount Walls (green)

5. The Northern wall – Discovering the Hidden Wall (purple)

6. Going up to the Mountain of the House of the Lord (white)

The specialised maps at the end of the book provide additional information if you wish to focus on a particular aspect of the Temple Mount. One unique never-before-published map gives New Testament references that will allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples around the Temple. The plan of the cisterns and underground structures will give you an idea of the magnitude of the vast world that lies beneath the Temple platform. The map of the Islamic structures will acquaint you with the gems of Muslim architecture all over the platform.

Many pages have sidebars containing fascinating tidbits of information on topics such as “Who was Melchizedek”,  “What did the Queen of Sheba see?”, “What is the difference between a Menorah and a Hanukkiah?“, “What happens to the prayer notes left in the Western Wall?”? etc.

The book was due to have been published this month but is being delayed by the lack of tourists in Israel at the moment. Ironically, the fact that visitors are being deterred by the present situation and that when they do come, visiting hours are so restricted, makes the sort of virtual tour facilitated by this guide book all the more valuable.

As we wrote in our previous post, you can expedite the book’s speedy publication by using the online Contact Form to express interest to Carta.

Jerusalem – The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount has been in turmoil recently. Every day there is some news about violence between Jews and Muslims on the Holy Mount. And the tourists are caught in the middle.

Ynetnews published an article today called “Powder keg on Temple Mount” which includes a video made during a visit to the Temple Mount. The situation on the Temple Mount is summarised like this:

 While Muslim worshipers are allowed to enter the complex throughout the entire day, Jews are allowed entry as visitors (not worshipers) between 7:30 am and 11 am, only through the Mughrabi Bridge and under heavy police protection. Palestinians have grown aggrieved by the increasing number of visits to the site by Orthodox Jews, a program that is actively supported by Moshe Feiglin, an outspoken and far-right member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The sounds of Jews singing and praying a few meters below, at the Western Wall and adjoining tunnels, permeate the Dome of the Rock plaza. The choirs of bearded men and veiled women in black compete for dominance with shouts and screams in Arabic of “Jews out! This place belongs to Muslims!

But the last paragraph caught our particular attention:

“Suddenly the screaming starts again. This time a group of women in black hijabs rushes amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” to expel a group of frightened-looking Israelis in secular dress, who are accompanied by a licensed guide who had dared to open a guide book in Hebrew.“

This brings us to the reason why we haven’t blogged for a while. Kathleen and I have been very busy updating two of our previous books and also writing a new Guide Book to the Temple Mount, called “Jerusalem – The Temple Mount, A Carta Guide”. Over the coming days we will report on these books and especially on our new Guide Book. This latest book is completely ready for publication, but the publisher is holding back because there are so few tourists in the country! The first guide book to this unique site since 1925 is ready to roll off the printing press… if only the tourists will show up!

We have just been told that if Carta gets enough interest for our book, they will go to print!!

The publisher is awaiting expressions of interest, so, we’d appreciate it if you’d fill in the contact form, expressing interest in our book. Thank you!

The Story of the Ritmeyer Image Library

Having recently updated our Image Library with about 40 new illustrations, we have received enquiries as to how this online resource came into being. As its creation was a process that took many years, you may be interested to read its story. We were privileged to live in Israel for a long time, so most of the images come from the Land. However, in recent years, we have managed somewhat to break the exclusive hold that Israel has on us and branch out into the surrounding Bible Lands.

What is unique about these images is the fact that most of them are reconstruction drawings. Most picture libraries are just that – pictures of sites. But when you are faced with the challenge of giving a talk on a Bible subject, you don’t just want to show a picture of ruins. You want to give your listeners an insight into the past by building up the stones into a structure where you can imagine Biblical events taking place. The same goes for picture editors looking for illustrations to help readers visualise how sites looked in antiquity.

We may take the idea of reconstruction drawings for granted today, but going back to the heady days after the 6-Day War, when there was an explosion of archaeological excavations, particularly in Jerusalem, there were very few around. Many archaeologists adopted a cautious, purist approach and found it a bit “risky” to take decisions as to a building’s original appearance. My foray into making reconstruction drawings stemmed from the experience of giving tours on the Temple Mount dig, whilst working on the site as surveyor. I used to try explaining features like Robinson’s Arch, the arched staircase that led up to the Temple Mount from the Western Wall street in the time of Christ, with my hands and feet. From questions I got asked afterwards, I realised that not everybody had “got it”!

Robinson’s Arch is the southernmost entrance in the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The arch is named after its discoverer, Edward Robinson. The arch supported a monumental stairway that led up from the main street in the Tyropoeon Valley and entered the Royal Stoa through a gateway.

Thus, my first reconstruction drawing of Robinson’s Arch and a career as an archaeological architect was born. It was all based on study drawings of the known elements, comparative architecture and research into the historical sources. Seeing peoples faces change from incomprehension to clear understanding sold me on the vital need for such drawings. I was blessed that the late Prof. Benjamin Mazar, who directed the dig, agreed and could not have been more encouraging.

As there were few others at the time making reconstructions (now it is a recognised field), I was asked to visit many sites to help visualise the original structures. Talk about “going over the cities of Israel!” These digs ranged from Ai, Beersheba and Dan to Shechem, Shiloh and Timnath of the Philistines.

I learnt much from the older school of archaeologists, such as the afore-mentioned Professor Mazar, who kept a copy of the Taanach, or Hebrew Bible on his desk, consulting it daily and calling it “our history book!” And Mendel Nun, a resident of Kibbutz Ein Gev on the Sea of Galilee (who died recently at the age of 92) did so much research into methods of fishing on the lake in ancient times, that I was able to make a drawing of the harbour of Capernaum in the time of Christ.

The harbour of Capernaum at the time of Christ. Several of its piers can still be seen today when the water level is low.

However, it was Jerusalem that was always the centre of my endeavours and I was also involved in the other two major digs that took place in the city, namely the Jewish Quarter Excavations and the Excavations in the City of David. Included in the Image Library is a picture from the former dig, directed by Prof. Nachman Avigad, of a building originally identified as part of an Israelite tower. However, as the dig expanded, it became clear that it could not have been a tower as one side was missing! One day, after returning from working on the summer season at the site of Timnath of the Philistines, I realised, from my experience of digging a gate of this period in Timnath, that we were looking at a similar structure here in the Jewish Quarter. From its location in the upper city, it became clear that it should, in fact, be identified as the Middle Gate of Jeremiah 39.3. Arrowheads found close to the site revealed the destruction of the city in the time of Zedekiah. Our hands got black with soot – tragic evidence of the fall of Jerusalem.

The Middle Gate (Jeremiah 39.3) where the Babylonian princes came together to celebrate their conquest of Jerusalem.

We left Israel during the First Intifada, as heightened security made it virtually impossible to work on many of the sites I was involved in in the West Bank. Having moved to the UK to do my Masters in Conservation Studies at the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies of the University of York (another walled city), one of the projects I was asked to do was to design models of the Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple and Herod’s Temple and Temple Mount for a Jewish philanthropist in Washington D.C. Photographs of these models, beautifully crafted by York Model Making, are included in the Image Library.

My Ph.D thesis entitled: “The Architectural Development of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem” (University of Manchester) necessitated the creation of many drawings to illustrate different aspects of this subject. And subsequently, during the years we lived in Australia, whilst teaching Hebrew and History at Heritage College Adelaide, I made models of Jerusalem in the different periods with some of my students. The process developed the students’ understanding of the city’s history immeasurably and resulted in models, some of which were unique in the history of model making, especially of the periods of Melchizedek and Nehemiah.

Jerusalem in the time of Melchizedek was located on the lower spur of the Eastern Hill of Jerusalem in the area later known as the City of David.
Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah was located on the eastern Hill, to the west of the Kedron Valley.

One aspect of our recent work with the ESV Study Bible required me to think about what the tomb of Jesus would have looked like, which brought about this brand new drawing.

The newly-hewn tomb where Jesus was buried belonged to Joseph of Arimathea. It had a rolling stone, confirming that he was a rich man.

And part of the project I did for the GLO Immersion Digital Bible involved making maps of all of Christ’s journeys. I have included in the Image Library this map of his last journey in Jerusalem. The traditional Via Dolorosa or Path of Sorrows was fixed by monks in Western Europe in the eighteenth century and a devotional procession along this route is still led by Franciscans every Friday. In fact, the streets upon which Jesus walked lie about 10 feet below the level of these thoroughfares. By contrast, this drawing called “The Way to Golgotha” is firmly based on Scriptural and archaeological evidence. This drawing is also available as a Bible Chart, which is one of our Photographic Posters that are individually designed and printed on A3 (297 × 420mm or 11.7 x 15.5 inch) size, high-quality, thick photo paper (paper weight 100 lb. or 270 g/m2).

Five stages in Christ’s last journey are shown on a reconstruction drawing of Jerusalem in 30 A.D.

A project that has added new drawings to the collection was the commissioning of artwork for Tyndale House Publishers Chronological Life Application Study Bible. These included reconstruction drawings of Jerusalem in the periods of David, Solomon, Hezekiah and the first century. See this recent post.

The Image Library also includes many photographs from a recent study tour of the Seven Churches of Revelation located in modern-day Turkey. Who knows, these may some day also be turned into reconstruction drawings! Tips for using the Image Library will hopefully be the subject of a future blog.

 

Jerusalem – new reconstruction drawings

Our Image Library has been updated with many new drawings. There are two new series on Jerusalem, new reconstruction drawings in portrait orientation of the Tabernacle, the Temples of Solomon and Herod, also of Herodium and other sites.

Throughout its history, the size of Jerusalem expanded, but also diminished at times, as shown here:

The city began its history on the Eastern Hill, located between the Kedron and Central Valleys. That is where Salem, the city of Melchizedek was located. The Jebusites took over the city and built a strong fortification around the Gihon Spring to the east. King David captured the Jebusite city and since then it was called the City of David:

His son Solomon built a new Temple and Royal Palace on Mount Moriah, to the north of the City of David and joined the new Temple/Palace complex to the previous city with city walls, as shown on this drawing:

Jerusalem was greatly enlarged by King Hezekiah who had to cope with a large influx of refugees from the Assyrian invasion. For the first time in its history, the Western Hill was enclosed with city walls and joined to the City of Solomon:

After the Babylonian Exile, Jerusalem was restored, but the Western Hill was left out, the destroyed houses and city wall a lasting memorial to the terrible Babylonian destruction:

It was in the Hellenistic period that this hill became part of Jerusalem again. King Herod the Great enlarged the city to the north, as far as the present-day Damascus Gate, and built a magnificent new Temple Mount, as can be seen here:

Just before the revolt against the Romans, an attempt was made to build another wall further to the north, the Third Wall:

All of these drawings and many more are available from our Image Library

News of Biblical Turkey

Mark Wilson sends word from Turkey that the Spring 2011 issue of the Asia Minor Report is available. You can read it here: Asia Minor Report 11 or subscribe by contacting Mark at: markwilson@sevenchurches.org.

Of particular interest is his review of Wall Painting in Ephesos from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine Period by Norbert Zimmermann and Sabine Ladstätter, Istanbul.

Wilson’s book Biblical Turkey (see our review here) has become one of the crucial sources on the history of the area and, together with the classic works, was a tremendous help in the production of our latest CD on The Seven Churches of Revelation.

 

GLO for Mac, iPad and iPhone

As a dedicated Mac user, I am pleased to announce that GLO is now available for Mac owners.

Glo is an interactive Bible with a world of media, resources and tools – HD video and documentaries, high resolution images, zoomable maps, 360-degree virtual tours and much more – to help you get closer to the Word of God. The Bible comes to life through Glo, allowing you to experience and explore the biblical world in ways never before possible. And it’s easy to use with Glo’s unique browsing lenses.

The main website gives information about GLO for various platforms, such as PC, Mac, iPad and iPhone. FAQs are answered on this site.

The Seven Churches of Revelation – New CD-Rom

Response to our existing CDs has been heartwarming, with many requests for more teaching tools like these. Having visited the Seven Churches of Revelation in 2010 and having been immersed in this subject before and since, we had to make this the subject of our next CD. It is the fact that the letters of Jesus to these representative churches were written with full knowledge of the circumstances and environment of each group of believers that make this subject so edifying and compelling.

The latest CD of Ritmeyer Archaeological Design

This presentation has 105 pictures and captions, making it suitable for a two-part talk (or a shorter one, if some slides were left out). It begins on the beautiful Greek island of Patmos, where the Apostle John was told to write the visions which he saw in a scroll and send them to the Seven Churches (Greek singular:”ekklesia”) which were in Asia. We visit these sites: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea in order, with additional slides devoted to Laodicea’s sister churches in the Lycus Valley: Colossae and Hierapolis, (without reference to these neighbouring churches, in particular their water supply, the letter to Laodicea would be unintelligible).

The circular postal route of the messenger is mapped, with a separate map given to highlight his journey from one city to the next. Each section includes a slide containing the full message to each church (quoted from the NKJV) with a useful summary given in its caption. The church and its city is then placed in its geographical and historical setting, with links made to the local background in each letter. Images providing Scriptural insight, accompanied by detailed captions, are given of each city. In Ephesus, you can disembark at the ancient harbour and walk with the messenger up the Harbour Way to the Theatre where the great riot had taken place about thirty years earlier in the time of Paul. With reference to Smyrna, see a possible modern remnant of the “crown of life.” In Philadelphia, ponder the poignancy of the promise to the “overcomers” of that city, never more to have to “go out.” This was to a group of people who were used to always having to flee the city, in an area notoriously prone to earthquakes.

And there are pictures that show the truly stunning location of some of these cities: the lofty acropolis of Pergamum, Sardis’ gentle glen of the Pactolus, in which King Midas is reputed to have washed off his “golden touch” and the breathtaking beauty of the travertine cliffs of Hierapolis. With the photographs having been taken in April, some of them cannot escape being framed with poppies or Judas Trees.

Not living at the time these letters were written, we cannot expect to fully appreciate their force. However, with the help of this presentation and the many illuminating links made to the background of each church, we can better appreciate the message of these letters which are still so remarkably relevant today.

The CD cover slide shows the Temple of Trajan in Pergamum, where the cult of Emperor worship made the city the place of “Satan’s Throne.”