The Western Wall Tunnels have been excavated along side the buried Herodian Temple Mount wall on the north end of the the Western Wall. Centuries of rubble and debris has covered up the original ashlar stones of the wall, the streets and much more.
When Herod doubled the size of the Old Testament Temple Mount he expanded to the north, to the south and to the west. The walls along the west side were set on the bedrock. The west wall of the Temple Mount’s retaining wall is 1,591 feet long, making it the longest of the four Temple Mount walls. In 70 AD the Romans completely destroyed the Temple, the Temple Mount buildings, and most of the Temple Mount wall except for the lower portions that were buried in the rubble from the debris of the dismantled Temple precincts and walls above.
From the Western Wall Prayer Plaza beside Wilson’s Arch a tunnel can be entered that runs along the northern portion of the west wall up to its northwest corner.
In 1996 Benjamin Netanyahu allowed the Jews to open the northern end of this Western Wall tunnel. When the tunnel was blasted through, it opened onto the Ummariya Madrasah, which is the street adjacent to the Via Dolorosa. This action resulted in riots by the Muslims who believed that the Jews were tunneling under the Temple Mount and that they were attempting to lay claim to the area of territory in the Muslim Quarter (which is, either way, in Israel and under Israeli control). Over the next two weeks 14 people were killed in the riots protesting the opening of the north end of the Western Wall Tunnel. Today a wall has been built
across the north end of the tunnel. The Tunnel must now be accessed from the north side in the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. The Struthion Pool lies below this covenant.
A vaulted passageway entered from the Western Wall Prayer Plaza. It leads under the Street of the Chain
to the tunnels along the northern portion of the Western Wall.
The model of the Temple Mount with Wilson's Arch in the bottom right. The stone wall seen in the background is represented in the model just to the
left of Wilson's
Arch and Gate.
The large Master Course Stone seen below can be seen in the model above as the large stone between
Wilson's Arch and Warren's Gate (the yellowish door in the wall of the model.
The Master Course Stone: Located between Warren's Gate and Wilson's Arch (which is located under the Gate of the Chain).
This stone is 44 feet long, 11.5 feet high, and 15 feet wide. It is estimated to weigh 570-630 tons. This stone is the master course.
It was used to stabilize the smaller stones under it. It sits 20 feet above the Herodian street level and 33 feet above the bedrock.
The master course extends to the left of the edge of this photo and past the right edge. The small stones setting above were used to
fill in where the Romans chipped away at it in 70 AD, attempting to dismantle the whole Western Wall. They reached the level of this
Master Course Stone and stopped. The rectangular holes in the stone were bored centuries later to help secure plaster to the wall
in order to create an underground cistern to hold water for the homes above.
Another view of the Master Course Stone with Galyn Wiemers standing beside the uncovered Herodian ashlar stones of the Western Temple Mount Wall.
In 30 AD this stone sat 20 feet above the Herodian street buried below this tunnel. It is 33 feet above the bedrock. It weighs between 570-630 tons.
This course is called the Master Course because it includes 4 of the largest ashlars in the Temple Mount retaining wall. These stones were set 20-30 feet
up the wall on top of much smaller ashlar blocks, some of which can be seen in the course below the master course. It was done this way in order to use
these huge ashlars blocks to stabalize the wall below. This idea proved to work since they have stood unmoved for 2,000 years.
The rectangle holes in the ashlar were cut around 135 AD when Hadrian converted this area under the rubble into cisterns. The rectangle holes where cut so that
wooden blocks or stones could be inserted into them to help secure the plaster to the walls. The plaster made the walls of the cisterns watertight. Some plaster can
still be seen attached to part of the wall.
The rectangle holes where cut so that wooden blocks or stones could be
inserted into them to help secure the plaster to the walls. The plaster made
the walls of the cisterns watertight.
A close look at the ashlar with the wooden (stone) block holding the plaster in place in the Western Wall tunnel.
Warren’s Gate was discovered in 1867 by Charles Warren. The single stone that makes the gate’s threshold is original from Herod’s
Temple. Warren’s Gate led to a tunnel and a staircase that worshippers could use to ascend to the Temple Mount. The Jews continued
to use this gate and tunnel as a synagogue until the Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 and banned them from entering Jerusalem.
In 1187 Saladin made the area inaccessible. This is the nearest point the Jews can get to the Most Holy Place. It is also believed to be the
hiding place of the Ark of the Covenant.
Maimonides wrote in The Book of Temple Service in the 1100’s: “When Solomon built the Temple, knowing that it was destined to be destroyed, he built underneath, in deep and winding tunnels, a place in which to hide the Ark. It was King Josiah who commanded the Ark be hidden in the place which Solomon had prepared.” Second Chronicles 35:3 might refer to Josiah removing the Ark of the Covenant from
the Temple to the hiding place Solomon had made, before the Babylonian invasion: “And he said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the Lord, ‘Put the holy ark in the house that Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built.”
The carving on the original gate that led into a staircase used to access the Temple Mount can be seen in the lintel on the right side of the gate on the right side of the photo. An enlarged view of the lintel is seen to the right of the photo above------>
During the time of the New Testament Temple Warren's Gate led from the Herodian Street that the people in the photo are standing on to an underground tunnel with a flight of stairs that led to the surface of the Temple Mount.
Another view of Warren's Gate that has been blocked shut with stones and fill. There is a tunnel and stairway on the other side that still leads up to the Temple Mount. Behind this blocked gate, in the Middle Ages, there was a synagogue called "The Cave" that was used by the Jews to worship.This Gate stopped being used after the Roman destruction in 70 AD, but in 638 when the Muslims took control of Jerusalem away from the Christian Byzantine empire the Jews were allowed to establish a synagogue in this Gate. This was the closests point to the Most Holy Place for the Jews to worship at that time. In 1099 the Christian Crusaders destroyed the Jews and this synagogue. This area became an underground cistern for storing rain water.
This is a photo of Warren's Gate that was used to access the Temple Mount. Notice the decorative engraving on the door jamb on the right side of the photo (the straight groove beginning by the number 12). Warren’s Gate is about 150 feet into the Western
Wall Tunnel. The paving stones are from the original Herodian street that led to this gate. On the other side of this blocked gateway is a stairway under the Temple Mount leading up to the Temple Mount surface, which the Jews used in the Middle Ages as a synagogue called “The Cave.”
Once again, the details of the original lintel on the right side of the outside of this gate can be seen in the cut away photo here ->
Jewish woman praying - Just a few feet north of Warren’s Gate is an area with an arch that is directly west of the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant sat. This is the closest the
Jews can get to the Holy of Holies today. Warren’s Gate can be seen on the right edge of this photo just down the steps.
The pavement in this photo is original Herodian pavement stone from 2,000 years ago.
Jewish women praying at a location in the tunnels that allows them to be as close to the ancient Holy of Holies as they can be at this time.
This photo was taken from the tunnel along the Western Wall looking down into an excavated area of the wall.
(The Western Wall is to the top of the photo.) This view shows how deep the courses of ashlar stones go before they reach bedrock.
These two photos (top and below) show vertical shafts made by Charles Warren in 1867.
One of Warren's vertical shafts (230 feet north of Robinson's arch) actually reaches the foundation of the Western Wall and is still visible today.
Another view looking down at the ashlars. Details of the preserved stones show the quality of workmanship that is not seen on stones that
have been exposed to wars and elements for 2,000 years. Notice, the depth is not as great as before since the bedrock level rises the further
north the tunnel goes.
Again, notice the sharp edges of the raised boss and the crisp, precise margins cut on these stones 2,000 years ago.
The tunnel continues further and further to the north along the Western Wall.
Toni stands on the Herodian pavement between two pillars that are part of the road that led to the left of the picture. 2,000 years ago this area
was under open sky, and the road continued straight (north) and to the left (west). Other pillars going west have been excavated
further down the road that would have been in line with these two pillars.
A Herodian street near the north end of the Western Wall tunnels. The two pillars on the left were part of a colonnaded street that ran to the west of
this street. This photo was taken looking north with the Western Wall on the right. This Herodian street would have run north-to-south, and the
colonnaded street would have made a “T” intersection with it and run toward the west (left).
Galyn Wiemers at the “T” intersection of the Herodian street at the north end of the Western Wall tunnels.
Toni stands by an unfinished quarried stone. Wooden blocks would have been wedged into the groove in the middle and then soaked with water
to make the stone split.
This quarry, only a few feet north of the Herodian road and the Hasmonean cistern, is where most of the Herodian stones for the Western Wall were taken from.
Walking through a water system that Herod redirected to the Temple Mount.
In 1996 Benjamin Netanyahu allowed the Jews to open the northern end of this Western Wall tunnel. When the tunnel was blasted through, it opened onto the
Ummariya Madrasah, which is the street adjacent to the Via Dolorosa. This action resulted in riots by the Muslims who believed that the Jews were tunneling
under the Temple Mount and that they were attempting to lay claim to the area of territory in the Muslim Quarter (which is, either way, in Israel and under Israeli
control). Over the next two weeks 14 people were killed in the riots protesting the opening of the north end of the Western Wall Tunnel. Today a wall has been built
across the north end of the tunnel. The Tunnel must now be accessed from the north side in the Convent of the Sisters of Zion. The Struthion Pool lies below
Galyn Wiemers stands in a Hasmonean Aqueduct cut through bedrock. It goes to the pool on the northwest corner
of the western wall of the Temple Mount. The bedrock walls have been worn smooth by the water.
The Struthion Pool was an open pool that served as a water reservoir for the city and as a moat for Fort Antonia. It collected rain water and also received water
from the Hasmonean aqueduct.
The vaulted ceiling installed by Hadrian in 135 to cover the open pools of water. The holes in the roof where used by people above to access the water by lowering
buckets on ropes. Hadrian built a market place at street level above these vaulted ceilings.
The holes in the top of the vaulted ceiling were used by people in the street above to access water in these cistern below with rope and bucket.
A review of the Western Wall Tunnels.
Watch Galyn's video of the Western Wall Tunnels
JERUSALEM: HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY AND
APOLOGETIC PROOF OF SCRIPTURE
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