Monday, February 22, 2010

the temple

An Israeli archaeologist said Monday that ancient fortifications recently excavated in Jerusalem date back 3,000 years to the time of King Solomon and support the biblical narrative about the era.

If the age of the wall is correct, the finding would be an indication that Jerusalem was home to a strong central government that had the resources and manpower needed to build massive fortifications in the 10th century B.C.

That's a key point of dispute among scholars, because it would match the Bible's account that the Hebrew kings David and Solomon ruled from Jerusalem around that time.

Speaking to reporters at the site Monday, Eliat Mazar, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called her find "the most significant construction we have from the First Temple days in Israel."

Based on the age of the fortifications and their location, it was the temple built by Solomon, David's son, and the one mentioned in the Book of Kings.

The fortifications, including a monumental gatehouse and a 77-yard long section of an ancient wall, are located just outside the present-day walls of Jerusalem's Old City, next to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount. According to the Old Testament, it was Solomon who built the first Jewish Temple on the site. That temple was destroyed by Babylonians, rebuilt and renovated by King Herod 2,000 years ago and then destroyed again by Roman legions in 70 A.D. The compound now houses two Islamic buildings, the golden-capped Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

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