Walls in Jerusalem

May 23rd, 2009

Our faculty colleagues on the Hales Fund trip to China have posted on their blog a wonderful photographic blog essay of their encounter with the Great Wall of China. It gives me an excuse to show some cool walls I’ve encountered lately on this trip. All of these structures are made from one of the limestone varieties of Jerusalem Stone.

Southwest corner of the retaining wall for the Temple Mount.  The massive lower blocks were carved and emplaced during the reign of King Herod the Great (37 - 4 BCE).

Southeast corner of the retaining wall for the Temple Mount. The massive lower blocks were carved and emplaced during the reign of King Herod the Great (37 - 4 BCE).

Golden Gate (Bab el-Rahma) in the eastern city wall.  Jewish tradition is that the Messiah will pass through this gate into Jerusalem.  Possibly for that reason the Muslim rulers in the 7th Century closed it up and placed a graveyard in fron of it.

Golden Gate (Bab el-Rahma) in the eastern city wall, another construction during Herod the Great's reign. Jewish tradition is that the Messiah will pass through this gate into Jerusalem. Possibly for that reason the Muslim rulers in the 7th Century closed it up and placed a graveyard in front of it.

Middle of the north city wall.  This is the side of the walled city most vulnerable to invaders, so the height of the wall was enhanced by quarrying out the limestone beneath it.  The door leads into one of many subsurface quarries underneath this part of the Old City.

Middle of the north city wall. This is the side of the walled city most vulnerable to invaders, so the height of the wall was enhanced by quarrying out the limestone beneath it. The door leads into one of many subsurface quarries underneath this part of the Old City.

The stones atop Jaffa Gate on the western side of the city walls shows bullet and shell scarring from the 1948 War of Independence.  Jordanian troops held the Old City and the Israelis were desperate to relieve the Jewish Quarter inside.

The stones atop Jaffa Gate on the western side of the city walls show bullet and shell scarring from the 1948 War of Independence. Jordanian troops held the Old City and the Israelis were desperate to relieve the Jewish Quarter inside.

A bit of limestone wall exposed in the Chapel of Adam inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  Christian tradition is that this is the burial place of Adam, which was supposed to be directly below the crucifixion site of Golgotha.  The crack you see in the rock was believed by early Christians to have been formed during the earthquake upon the death of Jesus.  Archaeologists suggest that it was a pre-existing crack in an old quarry.  What I found interesting was that someone has placed a strain meter across the crack!  Any movement of the rock here will not be good news for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

A bit of limestone wall exposed in the Chapel of Adam inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Christian tradition is that this is the burial place of Adam, which was supposed to be directly below the crucifixion site of Golgotha. The crack you see in the rock was believed by early Christians to have been formed during the earthquake upon the death of Jesus. Archaeologists suggest that it was a pre-existing crack in an old quarry. What I found interesting was that someone has placed a strain meter across the crack! Any movement of the rock here will not be good news for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The "broad wall" is a remnant of an 8th Century BCE fortification built by King Hezekiah to expand the size of Jerusalem.  It was uncovered while Israeli engineers were clearing the debris in the Jewish Quarter after it was liberated in 1967.

The "broad wall" is a remnant of an 8th Century BCE fortification built by King Hezekiah to expand the size of Jerusalem. It was uncovered while Israeli engineers were clearing the debris in the Jewish Quarter after it was liberated in 1967.

2 Responses to “Walls in Jerusalem”

  1. Susanon 24 May 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Very multidisciplinary post. Even the science of stone is enhanced by your attention to the aesthetics of the walls and the social context that surrounds them.

  2. […] Michał Zatoń showing how the Jurassic limestones are used to effectively lengthen and strengthen the castle walls at Pieskowa Skała. When bedrock is used like this it is called evocatively “living stone”. A similar use of living stone was recorded in this blog two years ago from Jerusalem. […]

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