Temple Mount

Temple Mount

Overview
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew (and in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

) as , and in Arabic (and in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

) as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religions are known to have used the Temple Mount: Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and Roman paganism.

Biblical scholars have often identified it with two biblical mountains of uncertain location: Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

 took place, and Mount Zion
Mount Zion
Mount Zion is a place name for a site in Jerusalem, the location of which has shifted several times in history. According to the Hebrew Bible's Book of Samuel, it was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace in the City...

 where the original Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

 fortress stood, however both interpretations are disputed.

Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence
Shekhinah
Shekinah is the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.-Etymology:Shekinah is derived...

 to rest (Isa 8:18); according to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam.
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Encyclopedia
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew (and in Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

) as , and in Arabic (and in Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

) as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religions are known to have used the Temple Mount: Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, and Roman paganism.

Biblical scholars have often identified it with two biblical mountains of uncertain location: Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

 took place, and Mount Zion
Mount Zion
Mount Zion is a place name for a site in Jerusalem, the location of which has shifted several times in history. According to the Hebrew Bible's Book of Samuel, it was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace in the City...

 where the original Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

 fortress stood, however both interpretations are disputed.

Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 regards the Temple Mount as the place where God chose the Divine Presence
Shekhinah
Shekinah is the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.-Etymology:Shekinah is derived...

 to rest (Isa 8:18); according to the rabbinic sages whose debates produced the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, it was from here the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first man, Adam. The site is the location of Abraham's binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

, and of two Jewish Temples
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

. According to the Bible the site should function as the center of all national life—a governmental, judicial and, of course, religious center (Deut 12:5-26; 14:23-25; 15:20; 16:2-16; 17:8-10; 26: 2; 31: 11; Isa 2: 2-5; Oba 1:21; Psa 48). During the Second Temple Period it functioned also as an economical center. From that location the word of God will come out to all nations, and that is the site where all prayers are focused. According to Jewish tradition and scripture (2 Chronicles 3:1-2), the first temple
Solomon's Temple
Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, was the main temple in ancient Jerusalem, on the Temple Mount , before its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar II after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE....

 was built by Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

 the son of David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 in 957 BCE and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. The second
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 in 516 BCE and destroyed by the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in 70 CE. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built. The location is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place Jews turn towards during prayer. Due to its extreme sanctity, many Jews will not walk on the Mount itself, to avoid unintentionally entering the area where the Holy of Holies
Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

 stood, since according to Rabbinical law, some aspect of the Divine Presence
Shekhinah
Shekinah is the English spelling of a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling divine presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.-Etymology:Shekinah is derived...

 is still present at the site. It was from the Holy of Holies that the High Priest communicated directly with God.

Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered to be the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary (Bait-ul-Muqaddas) and the location of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets
Table of prophets of Abrahamic religions
This is a table containing prophets of the modern Abrahamic religions.NOTE: In Judaism the classification of some people as prophets includes those who are not explicitly called so in the Hebrew Bible. Judaism also uses religious texts other than the Hebrew Bible to define prophets. Moreover,...

 who are also venerated in Islam. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 CE, Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as al-Aqsa, is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam and is located in the Old City of Jerusalem...

  and Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 on the site. The Dome was completed in 692 CE, making it one of the oldest extant Islamic structures in the world, after the Kaabah. The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

. The Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 mandates the Holy Temple be rebuilt.

In light of the dual claims of both Judaism and Islam, it is one of the most contested religious sites in the world. Since the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, the Muslim community of Jerusalem has managed the site as a Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

, without interruption. As part of the Old City, controlled by Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 since 1967, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 claim sovereignty over the site, which remains a major focal point of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In an attempt to keep the status quo, the Israeli government enforces a controversial ban on prayer by non-Muslim visitors.

Location and dimensions



The Temple Mount forms the northern portion of a very narrow spur of hill that slopes sharply from north to south. Rising above the Kidron Valley
Kidron Valley
The Kidron Valley is the valley on the eastern side of The Old City of Jerusalem which features significantly in the Bible...

 to the east and Tyropoeon Valley
Tyropoeon Valley
Tyropoeon Valley is the name given by Josephus the historian to the valley or rugged ravine, in the Old City of Jerusalem, which in ancient times separated Mount Moriah from Mount Zion and emptied into the valley of Hinnom...

 to the west, its peak reaches a height of 740 m (2,428 ft) above sea level. In around 19 BCE, Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 extended the Mount's natural plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 by enclosing the area with four massive retaining walls and filling the voids. This artificial expansion resulted in a large flat expanse which today forms the eastern section of the Old City of Jerusalem. The trapezium
Trapezoid
In Euclidean geometry, a convex quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides is referred to as a trapezoid in American English and as a trapezium in English outside North America. A trapezoid with vertices ABCD is denoted...

 shaped platform measures 488 m along the west, 470 m along the east, 315 m along the north and 280 m along the south, giving a total area of approximately 150000 m² (37.1 acre). The northern wall of the Mount, together with the northern section of the western wall, is hidden behind residential buildings. The southern section of the western flank is revealed and contains what is known as the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

. The retaining walls on these two sides descend many meters below ground level. A northern portion of the western wall may be seen from within the Western Wall Tunnel
Western Wall Tunnel
The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately long, the majority of its...

, which was excavated through buildings adjacent to the platform. On the southern and eastern sides the walls are visible almost to their full height. The platform itself is separated from the rest of the Old City by the Tyropoeon Valley, though this once deep valley is now largely hidden beneath later deposits, and is imperceptible in places. The platform can be reached via Bridge Street — a street in the Muslim Quarter
Muslim Quarter
The Muslim Quarter is one of the four quarters of the ancient, walled Old City of Jerusalem. It covers 31 hectares of the northeastern sector of the Old City. The quarter is the largest and most populous and extends from the Lions' Gate in the east, along the northern wall of the Temple Mount in...

 at the level of the platform, actually sitting on a monumental bridge; the bridge is no longer externally visible due to the change in ground level, but it may be seen from beneath via the Western Wall Tunnel.

Israelite period


The hill is believed to have been inhabited since the 4th millennium BC
4th millennium BC
The 4th millennium BC saw major changes in human culture. It marked the beginning of the Bronze Age and of writing.The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia...

E.

Assuming colocation with the biblical Mount Zion
Mount Zion
Mount Zion is a place name for a site in Jerusalem, the location of which has shifted several times in history. According to the Hebrew Bible's Book of Samuel, it was the site of the Jebusite fortress called the "stronghold of Zion" that was conquered by King David, becoming his palace in the City...

, its southern section would have been walled at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

E, in around 1850 BCE, by Canaanites who established a settlement there (or in the vicinity) named Jebus.

Biblical scholars have also identified it with Mount Moriah where the binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

 took place. According to the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, Mount Moriah was originally a threshing-floor owned by Araunah
Araunah
Araunah was a Jebusite who was mentioned in the Books of Samuel who owned the threshing floor on the summit of Mount Moriah that David purchased and used as the site for assembling an altar to God. The Scholar renders his name as Arunah....

, a Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

. The prophet Gad
Gad (Bible prophet)
Gad was a seer or prophet in the Hebrew Bible. He was one of the personal prophets of King David of Israel and some of his writings are believed to be included in the Books of Samuel...

 suggested the area to King David as a fitting place for the erection of an altar to YHWH, since it was there a destroying angel was standing when God stopped a great plague in Jerusalem. David then bought the property from Araunah, for fifty pieces of silver, and erected the altar. YHWH instructed David to build a sanctuary on the site, outside the city walls on the northern edge of the hill. The building was to replace the Tabernacle
Tabernacle
The Tabernacle , according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites...

, and serve as the Temple of the Israelites in Jerusalem.

Achaemenid Persian, Hasmonean periods, and Herod’s expansion



Much of the Mount's early history is synonymous with events pertaining to the Temple itself. After the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Nebuchadnezzar II, construction of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 began under Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 in around 538 BCE, and completed in 516 BCE. Evidence of a Hasmonean expansion of the Temple Mount has been recovered by archaeologist Leen Ritmeyer
Leen Ritmeyer
Leen Ritmeyer is a Dutch-born archaeological architect who currently lives and works in Wales, having spent 22 years in Jerusalem from 1967-1989. He holds the M.A. in Conservation Studies from the Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York, England, and the Ph.D. from the...

. Around 19 BCE, Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 further expanded the Mount and rebuilt the temple. The ambitious project, which involved the employment of 10,000 workers, more than doubled the size of Temple Mount to approximately 36 acres (145,687 m²). Herod leveled the area by cutting away rock on the northwest side and raising the sloping ground to the south. He achieved this by constructing huge buttress walls and vaults, filling the necessary sections with earth and rubble. A basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 (the Royal Stoa
Royal Stoa (Jerusalem)
The Royal Stoa was an ancient basilica constructed by Herod the Great during his renovation of the Temple Mount at the end of the 1st century BCE...

) was constructed on the southern end of the expanded platform, which provided a focus for the city's commercial and legal transactions, and which was provided with separate access to the city below via the Robinson's Arch
Robinson's Arch
Robinson's Arch is the name given to an arch that once stood at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount. It was built during the reconstruction of the Second Temple initiated by Herod the Great at the end of the 1st century BCE. The massive stone span was constructed along with the retaining...

 overpass. In addition to restoration of the Temple, its courtyards, and porticoes, Herod also built Antonia Fortress
Antonia Fortress
The Antonia Fortress was a military barracks built by Herod the Great in Jerusalem on the site of earlier Ptolemaic and Hasmonean strongholds, named after Herod's patron Mark Antony...

 abutting the northwestern corner of the Temple Mount, and a rainwater reservoir, Birket Israel
Birket Israel
Birket Israel also Birket Israil or Birket Isra'in, abbreviated from Birket Asbât Beni Israìl was a public cistern located on the north-eastern corner of the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem...

, in the northeast. As a result of the First Jewish-Roman War
First Jewish-Roman War
The First Jewish–Roman War , sometimes called The Great Revolt , was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews of Judaea Province , against the Roman Empire...

, the fortress was destroyed by Roman emperor Vespasian
Vespasian
Vespasian , was Roman Emperor from 69 AD to 79 AD. Vespasian was the founder of the Flavian dynasty, which ruled the Empire for a quarter century. Vespasian was descended from a family of equestrians, who rose into the senatorial rank under the Emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

, in 70 CE, under the command of his son and imperial heir, Titus
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

.

Middle Roman period


The city of Aelia Capitolina
Aelia Capitolina
Aelia Capitolina was a city built by the emperor Hadrian, and occupied by a Roman colony, on the site of Jerusalem, which was in ruins since 70 AD, leading in part to the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–136.-Politics:...

 was built in 130 CE by the Roman emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

, and occupied by a Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem, which was still in ruins from the First Jewish Revolt in 70 CE.

Aelia came from Hadrian's nomen gentile, Aelius
Aelia (gens)
The gens Aelia, occasionally written Ailia, was a plebeian family at Rome, which flourished from the 5th century BC until at least the 3rd century AD, a period of nearly eight hundred years. The archaic spelling Ailia is found on coins, but must not be confused with Allia, which seems to be a...

, while Capitolina meant that the new city was dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus
Capitoline Hill
The Capitoline Hill , between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol...

, to whom a temple was built on the site of the former second Jewish temple, the Temple Mount.

Hadrian had intended the construction of the new city as a gift to the Jews, but since he had constructed a giant statue of himself in front of the Temple of Jupiter and the Temple of Jupiter had a huge statue of Jupiter inside of it, there were now two enormous graven images on the Temple Mount. It was also the normal practice of the adherents of the Hellenic religion to sacrifice pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s before their deities. In addition to this, Hadrian issued a decree prohibiting the practice of circumcision
Circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

. These three factors, the graven images, the sacrifice of pigs before the altar, and the prohibition of circumcision, constituted for non-Hellenized radical Zealot Jews a new abomination of desolation
Abomination of Desolation
The abomination of desolation is a term found in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Daniel. It also occurs in the book of 1 Maccabees and in the New Testament gospels....

, and thus Bar Kochba launched the Third Jewish Revolt. After the Third Jewish Revolt failed, all Jews were forbidden on pain of death from entering the city.

Late Roman period


About 325 it is believed that Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

's mother, St. Helena
Helena of Constantinople
Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

, built a small church on the Mount in the 4th century, calling it the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John
Cyrus and John
Saints Cyrus and John are venerated as martyrs. They are especially venerated by the Coptic Church and surnamed Wonderworking Unmercenaries because they healed the sick free of charge....

, later on enlarged and called the Church of the Holy Wisdom. The church was later destroyed and on its ruins the Dome of the Rock was built. Since it is known that Helena ordered the Temple of Venus to the west of the Temple Mount to be torn down to construct the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

, presumably she also ordered the Temple of Jupiter on the Temple Mount to be torn down to construct the Church of St. Cyrus and St. John.

In 363, Emperor Julian II
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

, on his way to engage Persia, stopped at the ruins
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem. Julian granted the Jews permission to begin rebuilding the Temple. To Christians, the destroyed Temple was a symbol of Christianity's triumph over Judaism, and Julian, was an opponent of Christianity. Rebuilding work began, but was ended by the Galilee earthquake of 363
Galilee earthquake of 363
The Galilee earthquake of 363 was a severe earthquake that shook the Galilee and nearby regions in 363 CE.-Impact:* Tzippori was severely damaged.* Nabratein and the Nabratein synagogue were destroyed....

.

There are records of Jews continuing to offer sacrifices on the Foundation Stone after the destruction of the Temple and into the Byzantine period.

Byzantine period


Archaeological evidence in the form of an elaborate mosaic floor similar to the one in the Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. The structure is built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus it is considered sacred by Christians...

 in Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 and multiple fragments of an elaborate marble Templom (chancel screen) prove that an elaborate Byzantine church or monastery or other public building stood on the Temple Mount in Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 times, presumably the aforementioned Holy Wisdom Church.

Sassanid vassal state period


In 610, the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 drove the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 out of the Middle East, giving the Jews control of Jerusalem for the first time in centuries. The new rulers soon ordered the restart of animal sacrifice for the first time since the time of Second Temple. Shortly before the Byzantines took the area back a few years later, the Persians
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 gave control to the Christian population, who tore down the partially built Jewish temple edifice and turned it into a garbage dump, which is what it was when the Caliph Omar
Umar
`Umar ibn al-Khattāb c. 2 November , was a leading companion and adviser to the Islamic prophet Muhammad who later became the second Muslim Caliph after Muhammad's death....

 took the city in the 630s.

Arabic period


Upon the capture of Jerusalem by the victorious Caliph Omar, Omar immediately headed to the Temple Mount with his advisor, Ka'ab al-Ahbar
Ka'ab al-Ahbar
Ka‘b al-Aḥbār was a prominent rabbi from Yemen of the clan of Dhu Ra'in or Dhu al-Kila. He is counted among the Tabi‘in and narrated many Isra'iliyat.-Umar's era:...

, a formerly Jewish rabbi who had converted to Islam, in order to find the holy site of the "Furthest Mosque" or Al Masjid al Aqsa which was mentioned in the Quran and specified in the Hadiths of being in Jerusalem.Ka'ab al-Ahbar
Ka'ab al-Ahbar
Ka‘b al-Aḥbār was a prominent rabbi from Yemen of the clan of Dhu Ra'in or Dhu al-Kila. He is counted among the Tabi‘in and narrated many Isra'iliyat.-Umar's era:...

 suggested to Caliph Omar to build the Dome of the Rock monument on the site that Ka'ab believed to be the Biblical Holy of the Holies, arguing that this site is where Mohammad ascended to heaven during the Isra and Mi'raj
Isra and Mi'raj
The Isra and Mi'raj , are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey...

 miracle. The actual construction of the Muslim monuments at the southeast corner, facing Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

, near which the al-Aqsa Mosque were built 78 years later. The original building is now known to have been wooden and to have been constructed on the site of a Byzantine public building with an elaborate mosaic floor. (The Persian conquest that immediately preceded the Arab conquest makes it uncertain who destroyed the building.)

In 691 an octagonal Islamic building topped by a dome was built by the Caliph Abd al-Malik around the rock, for a myriad of political, dynastic and religious reasons, built on local and Koranic traditions articulating the site's holiness, a process in which textual and architectural narratives reinforced one another. The shrine became known as the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 (Qubbat as-Sakhra قبة الصخرة). The dome itself was covered in gold in 1920. In 715 the Umayyads led by the Caliph al-Walid I, rebuilt the Temple's nearby Chanuyos into a mosque (see illustrations and detailed drawing) which they named al-Masjid al-Aqsa المسجد الأقصى, the al-Aqsa Mosque or in translation "the furthest mosque", corresponding to the Islamic belief of Muhammad's miraculous nocturnal journey
Isra and Mi'raj
The Isra and Mi'raj , are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey...

 as recounted in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 and hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

. The term al-Haram al-Sharif الحرم الشريف (the Noble Sanctuary) refers to the whole area that surrounds that Rock as was called later by the Mamluks and Ottomans.

For Muslims, the importance of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque makes Jerusalem the third-holiest city
Holiest sites in Islam (Sunni)
According to Sahih al-Bukhari, Muhammad said "Do not set out on a journey except for three Mosques i.e. Al-Masjid-AI-Haram, the Mosque of Allah's Apostle, and the Mosque of Al-Aqsa, ." In the Islāmic Sunni tradition, the Ka'bah is considered the Holiest site, followed by Masjidun Nabawi as the...

, after Mecca and Medina
Medina
Medina , or ; also transliterated as Madinah, or madinat al-nabi "the city of the prophet") is a city in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia, and serves as the capital of the Al Madinah Province. It is the second holiest city in Islam, and the burial place of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, and...

. The mosque and shrine are currently administered by a Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 (an Islamic trust). The various inscriptions on the Dome walls and the artistic decorations imply on symbolic eschatological significance of the structure.

From the Arabic Conquest to the Crusades there seems to have been good relations between the Arab rulers and the Jewish minority. A Jewish synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 was built on the Temple Mount. Its location has not been established, but it was destroyed by the Crusaders when they took the city and massacred the Jews and Muslims in 1099.

Ottoman period


Following the Ottoman conquest of Palestine in 1516, the Ottoman authorities continued the policy of prohibiting non-Muslims from setting foot on the Temple Mount until the early 19th-century, when non-Muslims were again permitted to visit the site.

In 1867, a team from the Royal Engineers
Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

, led by Lieutenant Charles Warren
Charles Warren
General Sir Charles Warren, GCMG, KCB, FRS was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount...

 and financed by the Palestine Exploration Fund
Palestine Exploration Fund
The Palestine Exploration Fund is a British society often simply known as the PEF. It was founded in 1865 and is still functioning today. Its initial object was to carry out surveys of the topography and ethnography of Ottoman Palestine with a remit that fell somewhere between an expeditionary...

 (P.E.F.), discovered a series of underground tunnels near the Temple Mount. Warren secretly excavated some tunnels near the Temple Mount walls, and was the first one to document lower courses of them. Warren also conducted some small scale excavations inside the Temple Mount, by removing rubble the blocked passages leading from the Double Gate chamber.

British Mandate period


Between 1922 and 1924, the Dome of the Rock was restored by the Islamic Higher Council.

Jordanian period


Jordan undertook two renovations of the Dome of the Rock, replacing the leaking, wooden dome with an aluminum dome in 1952, and, when the new dome leaked, carrying out a second restoration between 1959 and 1964.

Neither Israeli Arabs nor Israeli Jews could visit their holy places in the Jordanian territories during this period.

Israeli period


During the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 Israel captured the Temple Mount together with all of East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, who had controlled it since 1948. The Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Defense Forces, Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren , was an Orthodox Religious Zionist rabbi in Israel who founded and served as the first head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces and subsequently as the third Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983.He served in the Israel Defense Forces during three wars,...

, led the soldiers in religious celebrations on the Temple Mount and at the Western Wall. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate also declared a religious holiday on the anniversary, called "Yom Yerushalayim" (Jerusalem Day), which also became a national holiday that commemorates the reunification of the city. Many Jews saw the capture of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount as a miraculous liberation of biblical-messianic proportion.

A few days after the war was over 200,000 Jews flocked to the Western Wall in the first mass Jewish pilgrimage near the mount since the destruction of Temple in 69 CE. However, the Israeli government subsequently left the Islamic waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 in control of the site. The site has become a flash-point between Israel and the Muslim world.

Between 1992 and 1994, the Jordanian government undertook the unprecedented step of gilding the dome of the Dome of the Rock, covering it with 5000 gold plates, and restoring and reinforcing the structure. The Salah Eddin minbar
Minbar
A minbar is a pulpit in the mosque where the imam stands to deliver sermons or in the Hussainia where the speaker sits and lectures the congregation...

 was also restored. The project was paid for by King Hussein
Hussein of Jordan
Hussein bin Talal was the third King of Jordan from the abdication of his father, King Talal, in 1952, until his death. Hussein's rule extended through the Cold War and four decades of Arab-Israeli conflict...

 personally, at a cost of $8 million.

Management and access


An Islamic Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 has managed the Temple Mount continuously since the Muslim reconquest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 in 1187. On 7 June 1967, soon after Israel had taken control of the area during the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol
Levi Eshkol
' served as the third Prime Minister of Israel from 1963 until his death from a heart attack in 1969. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to die in office.-Biography:...

 assured that "no harm whatsoever shall come to the places sacred to all religions". Together with the extension of Israeli jurisdiction and administration over east Jerusalem, the Knesset passed the Preservation of the Holy Places Law, ensuring protection of the Holy Places against desecration, as well as freedom of access thereto. Israel agreed to leave administration of the site in the hands of the Waqf.

Although freedom of access was enshrined in the law, as a security measure, the Israeli government currently enforces a ban on non-Muslim prayer on the site. Non-Muslims who are observed praying on the site are subject to expulsion by the police. At various times, when there is fear of Arab rioting upon the mount resulting in throwing stones from above towards the Western Wall Plaza, Israel has prevented Muslim men under 45 from praying in the compound, citing these concerns. Sometimes such restrictions have coincided with Friday prayers during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan
Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days. It is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours and is intended to teach Muslims about patience, spirituality, humility and...

.

Current features


An additional flat platform was built above the portion of the hill rising above the general level of the top of the Temple Mount, and this upper platform is the location of the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

; the rock in question
Sakhrah
The Foundation Stone or Rock is the name of the rock at the heart of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem...

 is the bedrock at the peak of the hill, just breaching the floor level of the upper platform. Beneath the rock is a natural cave known as the Well of Souls
Well of Souls
This article describes the cave in Jerusalem. For the series of novels by Jack Chalker see Well World.The Well of Souls is a natural cave located immediately beneath the Foundation Stone, under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem...

, originally accessible only by a narrow hole in the rock itself, Crusaders
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 hacked open an entrance to the cave from the south, by which it can now be entered. There is also a smaller domed building on the upper platform, slightly to the east of the Dome of the Rock, known as the Dome of the Chain
Dome of the Chain
Dome of the Chain is a free-standing dome located adjacently east of the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem. One of the oldest structures on the Haram ash-Sharif , it is not a mosque or shrine, but is used as a prayer house...

 — traditionally the location where a chain once rose to heaven. Several stairways rise to the upper platform from the lower; that at the northwest corner is believed by some archaeologists be part of a much wider monumental staircase, mostly hidden or destroyed, and dating from the Second Temple era.


The lower platform — which constitutes most of the surface of the Temple Mount — has at its southern end the al-Aqsa Mosque, which takes up most of the width of the Mount. Gardens take up the eastern and most of the northern side of the platform; the far north of the platform houses an Islamic school. The lower platform also houses a fountain (known as al-Kas), originally supplied with water via a long narrow aqueduct leading from pools at Bethlehem
Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

 (colloquially known as Solomon's Pools
Solomon's Pools
Solomon's Pools , are located immediately to the south of al-Khader and about 5 kilometres southwest of Bethlehem. The pools consist of three open cisterns, each pool with a 6 metre drop to the next, fed from an underground spring. With each pool being over 100 metres long, 65 metres wide and 10...

), but now supplied from Jerusalem's water mains. There are several cisterns embedded in the lower platform, designed to collect rain water as a water supply. These have various forms and structures, seemingly built in different periods by different architects, ranging from vaulted chambers built in the gap between the bedrock and the platform, to chambers cut into the bedrock itself. Of these, the most notable are (numbering traditionally follows Wilson's scheme):
  • Cistern 1 (located under the northern side of the upper platform). There is a speculation that it had a function connected with the altar of the Second Temple (and possibly of the earlier Temple), or with the bronze sea.
  • Cistern 5 (located under the south eastern corner of the upper platform) — a long and narrow chamber, with a strange anti-clockwise curved section at its north western corner, and containing within it a doorway currently blocked by earth. The cistern's position and design is such that there has been speculation it had a function connected with the altar of the Second Temple (and possibly of the earlier Temple), or with the bronze sea. Charles Warren thought that the altar of burnt offerings was located at the north western end.
  • Cistern 8 (located just north of the al-Aqsa Mosque) — known as the Great Sea, a large rock hewn cavern, the roof supported by pillars carved from the rock; the chamber is particularly cave-like and atmospheric, and its maximum water capacity is several hundred thousand gallons.
  • Cistern 9 (located just south of cistern 8, and directly under the al-Aqsa Mosque) — known as the Well of the Leaf due to its leaf-shaped plan, also rock hewn.
  • Cistern 11 (located east of cistern 9) — a set of vaulted rooms forming a plan shaped like the letter E. Probably the largest cistern, it has the potential to house over 700,000 gallons of water.
  • Cistern 16/17 (located at the centre of the far northern end of the Temple Mount). Despite the currently narrow entrances, this cistern (17 and 16 are the same cistern) is a large vaulted chamber, which Warren described as looking like the inside of the cathedral at Cordoba
    Córdoba, Spain
    -History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

     (which was previously a mosque). Warren believed that it was almost certainly built for some other purpose, and was only adapted into a cistern at a later date; he suggested that it might have been part of a general vault supporting the northern side of the platform, in which case substantially more of the chamber exists than is used for a cistern.




The walls of the platform contain several gateways, all currently blocked. In the east wall is the Golden Gate, through which legend states the Jewish Messiah
Jewish Messiah
Messiah, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25...

 would enter Jerusalem. On the southern face are the Hulda Gates — the triple gate (which has three arches) and the double gate (which has two arches, and is partly obscured by a Crusader building); these were the entrance and exit (respectively) to the Temple Mount from Ophel
Ophel
The City of David is the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. It is a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to tradition, it is the place where King...

 (the oldest part of Jerusalem), and the main access to the Mount for ordinary Jews. In the western face, near the southern corner, is the Barclay's Gate — only half visible due to a building on the northern side. Also in the western face, hidden by later construction but visible via the recent Western Wall Tunnels, and only rediscovered by Warren, is Warren's Gate
Warren's Gate
Warren's Gate is an ancient entrance into the Temple platform in Jerusalem which lies about into the Western Wall Tunnel. In the Second Temple period, the gate led to a tunnel and staircase onto the Temple Mount....

; the function of these western gates is obscure, but many Jews view Warren's Gate as particularly holy, due to its location due west of the Dome of the Rock. Traditional belief considers the Dome of the Rock to have earlier been the location at which the Holy of Holies
Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

 was placed; numerous alternative opinions exist, based on study and calculations, such as those of Tuvia Sagiv and by observation, the way most Jews face when praying at the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 or Kotel.

Warren was able to investigate the inside of these gates. Warren's Gate and the Golden Gate simply head towards the centre of the Mount, fairly quickly giving access to the surface by steps. Barclay's Gate is similar, but abruptly turns south as it does so; the reason for this is currently unknown. The double and triple gates (the Huldah Gates) are more substantial; heading into the Mount for some distance they each finally have steps rising to the surface just north of the al-Aqsa Mosque. The passageway for each is vaulted, and has two aisles (in the case of the triple gate, a third aisle exists for a brief distance beyond the gate); the eastern aisle of the double gates and western of the triple gates reach the surface, the other aisles terminating some way before the steps — Warren believed that one aisle of each original passage was extended when the al-Aqsa Mosque blocked the original surface exits.

East of and joined to the triple gate passageway is a large vaulted area, supporting the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount platform — which is substantially above the bedrock at this point — the vaulted chambers here are popularly referred to as King Solomon's Stables. They were used as stables by the Crusaders, but were built by Herod the Great — along with the platform they were built to support. In the process of investigating Cistern 10, Warren discovered tunnels that lay under the Triple Gate passageway. These passages lead in erratic directions, some leading beyond the southern edge of the Temple Mount (they are at a depth below the base of the walls); their purpose is currently unknown — as is whether they predate the Temple Mount — a situation not helped by the fact that apart from Warren's expedition no one else is known to have visited them.

The existing four minarets include three near the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

 and one near the northern wall. The first minaret was constructed on the southwest corner of the Temple Mount in 1278. The second was built in 1297 by order of a Mameluk king, the third by a governor of Jerusalem in 1329, and the last in 1367.

Alterations to antiquities and damage to existing structures



Due to the extreme political sensitivity of the site, no real archaeological excavations have even been conducted on the Temple Mount itself. Protests commonly occur whenever archaeologists conduct projects near the Mount. Aside from visual observation of surface features, most other archaeological knowledge of the site comes from the 19th century survey carried out by Charles Wilson
Charles William Wilson
Sir Charles William Wilson K.C.B., K.C.M.G., F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D., M.E. was a British military officer and geographer.-Biography:...

 and Charles Warren
Charles Warren
General Sir Charles Warren, GCMG, KCB, FRS was an officer in the British Royal Engineers. He was one of the earliest European archaeologists of Biblical Holy Land, and particularly of Temple Mount...

 and others. This sensitivity has not prevented the Muslim Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 from destroying archeological evidence on a number of occasions.

After the Six-Day War of 1967, Israeli archeologists began a series of excavations near the site at the southern wall
Southern Wall
The Southern Wall is a wall at the southern end of the Temple Mount and the former southern side of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was built during King Herod's expansion of the Temple Mount platform southward on to the Ophel.-Construction:...

 that uncovered finds from the Second Temple period through Roman, Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

 and Crusader times. Over the period 1970–88, a number of tunnels were excavated in the vicinity, including one that passed to the west of the Mount and became known as the Western Wall Tunnel
Western Wall Tunnel
The Western Wall Tunnel is an underground tunnel exposing the full length of the Western Wall. The tunnel is adjacent to the Western Wall and is located under buildings of the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel. While the open-air portion of the Western Wall is approximately long, the majority of its...

, which was opened to the public in 1996. The same year the Waqf began construction of a new mosque in the structures known since Crusader times as Solomon's Stables
Solomon's Stables
Solomon's Stables or Marwani Mosque is an underground mosque some 600 square yards beneath al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem...

. Many Israelis regarded this as a radical change of the status quo, which should not have been undertaken without first consulting the Israeli government. The project was done without attention to the possibility of disturbing historically significant archaeological material, with stone and ancient artifacts treated without regard to their preservation.

In October 1999, the Islamic Waqf, and the Islamic Movement conducted an illegal dig which inflicted much archaeological damage. The earth from this operation, which has archeological wealth relevant to Jewish, Christian and Muslim history, was removed by heavy machinery and unceremoniously dumped by trucks into the nearby Kidron Valley. Although the archeological finds in the earth are already not in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

, this soil still contains great archeological potential. No archeological excavation was ever conducted on the Temple Mount, and this soil was the only archeological information that has ever been available to anyone. For this reason Israeli archaeologists Dr. Gabriel Barkay and Zachi Zweig established a unique project for sifting all the earth in this dump.
Among finds uncovered in rubble removed from the Temple Mount were:
  • The imprint of a seal thought to have belonged to a priestly Jewish family mentioned in the Old Testament's Book of Jeremiah.
  • More than 4300 coins from various periods. Many of them are from the Jewish revolt that preceded the destruction of the Second Temple by Roman legions in 70 CE emblazoned with the words "Freedom of Zion"
  • Arrowheads shot by Babylonian archers 2,500 years ago, and others launched by Roman siege machinery 500 years later.
  • Unique floor slabs of the 'opus sectile
    Opus sectile
    Opus sectile refers to an art technique popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world where materials were cut and inlaid into walls and floors to make a picture or pattern. Common materials were marble, mother of pearl, and glass. The materials were cut in thin pieces, polished, then trimmed...

    ' technique that were used to pave the Temple Mount courts. This is also mentioned in Josephus accounts and the Babylonian Talmud.


In late 2002, a bulge of about 700 mm was reported in the southern retaining wall part of the Temple Mount. A Jordanian team of engineers recommended replacing or resetting most of the stones in the affected area. In February 2004, the eastern wall of the Mount was damaged by an earthquake. The damage threatened to topple sections of the wall into the area known as Solomon's Stables. A few days later, a portion of retaining wall, supporting the earthen ramp that led from the Western Wall plaza to the Gate of the Moors on the Temple Mount, collapsed. In 2007 the Israel Antiquities Authority
Israel Antiquities Authority
The Israel Antiquities Authority is an independent Israeli governmental authority responsible for enforcing the 1978 Law of Antiquities. The IAA regulates excavation and conservation, and promotes research...

 started work on the construction of a temporary wooden pedestrian pathway to replace the Mugrabi Gate ramp after a landslide in 2005 made it unsafe and in danger of collapse. The works sparked condemnation from Arab leaders.

In July 2007 the Muslim religious trust
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 which administers the Mount began digging a 400-metre-long, 1.5-metre-deep trench
Trench
A trench is a type of excavation or depression in the ground. Trenches are generally defined by being deeper than they are wide , and by being narrow compared to their length ....

 from the northern side of the Temple Mount compound to the Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The structure has been refurbished many times since its initial completion in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik...

 in order to replace 40-year-old electric cables in the area. Israeli archaeologists accused the waqf of a deliberate act of cultural vandalism.
Israelis allege that Palestinians are deliberately removing significant amounts of archaeological evidence about the Jewish past of the site and claim to have found significant artifacts in the fill removed by bulldozers and trucks from the Temple Mount. Muslims allege that the Israelis are deliberately damaging the remains of Islamic-era buildings found in their excavations. Since the Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 is granted almost full autonomy on the Islamic holy sites, Israeli archaeologists have been prevented from inspecting the area; although they have conducted several excavations around the Temple Mount.

In Judaism



Jewish connection and veneration to the site arguably stems from the fact that it contains the Foundation Stone which, according to the rabbis of the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, was the spot from where the world was created and expanded into its current form. It was subsequently the Holy of Holies
Holy of Holies
The Holy of Holies is a term in the Hebrew Bible which refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem where the Ark of the Covenant was kept during the First Temple, which could be entered only by the High Priest on Yom Kippur...

 of the Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

, the Most Holy Place
Most Holy Place
This article provides a comprehensive list of significant religious sites and places of spiritual importance throughout the world.-Bahá'í faith:...

 in Judaism. Jewish tradition names it as the location for a number of important events which occurred in the Bible, including the Binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac Akedah or Akeidat Yitzchak in Hebrew and Dhabih in Arabic, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah...

, Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

's dream, and the prayer of Isaac and Rebekah. Similarly, when the Bible recounts that King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 purchased a threshing floor owned by Araunah
Araunah
Araunah was a Jebusite who was mentioned in the Books of Samuel who owned the threshing floor on the summit of Mount Moriah that David purchased and used as the site for assembling an altar to God. The Scholar renders his name as Arunah....

 the Jebusite
Jebusite
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Jebusites were a Canaanite tribe who inhabited and built Jerusalem prior to its conquest by King David; the Books of Kings state that Jerusalem was known as Jebus prior to this event...

, tradition locates it as being on this mount. An early Jewish text, the Genesis Rabba
Genesis Rabba
Genesis Rabba is a religious text from Judaism's classical period. It is a midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis ....

, states that this site is one of three about which the nations of the world cannot taunt Israel and say "you have stolen them," since it was purchased "for its full price" by David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

. David wanted to construct a sanctuary there, but this was left to his son Solomon
Solomon
Solomon , according to the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles, a King of Israel and according to the Talmud one of the 48 prophets, is identified as the son of David, also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before...

, who completed the task in c. 950 BCE with the construction of the First Temple.

In 1217, Spanish pilgrim Judah al-Harizi
Yehuda Alharizi
Yehuda Alharizi, also Judah ben Solomon Harizi or al-Harizi was a rabbi, translator, poet and traveller active in Spain in the Middle Ages . He was supported by wealthy patrons, to whom he wrote poems and dedicated compositions.He was a rationalist, conveying the works of Maimonides and his...

 found the sight of the Muslim structures on the mount profoundly disturbing. "What torment to see our holy courts converted into an alien temple!" he wrote.

Due to religious restrictions on entering the most sacred areas of the Temple Mount (see following section), the Western Wall
Western Wall
The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount...

, a retaining wall for the Temple Mount and remnant of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 structure, is considered by some rabbinical authorities the holiest accessible site for Jews to pray. Jewish texts record that the Mount will be the site of the Third Temple, which will be rebuilt with the coming of the Jewish Messiah
Jewish Messiah
Messiah, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25...

.

Jewish religious law concerning entry to the site


During Temple times, entry to the Mount was limited by a complex set of purity laws. Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 wrote that it was only permitted to enter the site to fulfill a religious precept. After the destruction of the Temple there was discussion as to whether the site, bereft of the Temple, still maintained its holiness or not. Jewish codifiers accepted the opinion of Maimonides who ruled that the holiness of the Temple sanctified the site for eternity and consequently the restrictions on entry to the site are still currently in force. While secular Jews ascend freely, the question of whether ascending is permitted is a matter some debate among religious authorities, with a majority holding that it is permitted to ascend to the Temple Mount, but not to step on the site of the inner courtyards of the ancient Temple. The question then becomes whether the site can be ascertained accurately. A second complex legal debate centers around the precise divine punishment for stepping onto these forbidden spots.

There is debate over whether reports that Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 himself ascended the Mount are reliable. One such report claims he did so during the Crusader period. Some early scholars however, claim that entry onto certain areas of the Mount are permitted. It appears that Radbaz
David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra
Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Zimra , also called Radbaz after the initials of his name, Rabbi David iBn Zimra, was an early Acharon of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who was a leading posek, rosh yeshiva, chief rabbi, and author of more than 3,000 responsa as well as several scholarly...

 also entered the Mount and advised others how to do this. He permits entry from all the gates into the 135×135 cubits of the Women's Courtyard in the east, since the biblical prohibition only applies to the 187×135 cubits of the Temple in the west. There are also Christian and Islamic sources which indicate that Jews accessed the site, but these visits may have been made under duress.

Opinions of contemporary rabbis concerning entry to the site


In August 1967 after Israel's capture of the Mount, the Chief Rabbis of Israel
Chief Rabbinate of Israel
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is recognized by law as the supreme halakhic and spiritual authority for the Jewish people in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate Council assists the two chief rabbis, who alternate in its presidency. It has legal and administrative authority to organize religious...

, Isser Yehuda Unterman
Isser Yehuda Unterman
Rabbi Isser Yehuda Unterman was the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1964 until 1972.Born in Brest-Litovsk in modern Belarus, Unterman was educated at the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Maltsch. There, he became a pupil of its Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Shimon Shkop...

 and Yitzhak Nissim
Yitzhak Nissim
Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim was a former Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Nissim was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Palestine in 1925....

, together with other leading rabbis, asserted that "For generations we have warned against and refrained from entering any part of the Temple Mount." A recent study of this rabbinical ruling suggests that it was both "unprecedented" and possibly prompted by governmental pressure on the rabbis, as well as "brilliant" in preventing Muslim-Jewish friction on the Mount.

Rabbinical consensus in the post-1967 period in the Religious Zionist
Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Jewish religious faith...

 stream of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 held that it is forbidden for Jews to enter any part of the Temple Mount, and in January 2005 a declaration was signed confirming the 1967 decision.

Nearly all Haredi rabbis are also of the opinion that the Mount is off limits to Jews and non-Jews alike. Their opinions against entering the Temple Mount are based on the danger of entering the hallowed area of the Temple courtyard and the impossibility of fulfilling the ritual requirement of cleansing oneself with the ashes of a red heifer
Red heifer
The red heifer or red cow was a sacrifice in the Hebrew Bible the ashes of which are used for the ritual purification of an ancient Israelite who had come into contact with a corpse.- Hebrew Bible :...

. The boundaries of the areas which are completely forbidden, while having large portions in common, are delineated differently by various rabbinic authorities.

However, there is a growing body of Modern Orthodox and national religious
Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Jewish religious faith...

 rabbis who encourage visits to certain parts of the Mount, which they believe are permitted according to most medieval rabbinical authorities. These rabbis include: Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren , was an Orthodox Religious Zionist rabbi in Israel who founded and served as the first head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces and subsequently as the third Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983.He served in the Israel Defense Forces during three wars,...

 (former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel); Chaim David Halevi (former Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Yaffo); Dov Lior
Dov Lior
Dov Lior is an Israeli rabbi, who currently serves as the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank. He is also the rosh yeshiva Kiryat Arba Hesder Yeshiva, and also heads the "Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria".-Biography:...

 (Rabbi of Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba
Kiryat Arba or Qiryat Arba , lit. "Town of the Four," is an Israeli settlement in the Judean Mountains region of the West Bank on the edge of Hebron. Its settlers consist of a mix of Russian immigrants, American immigrants, and native-born Israelis numbering close to 10,000...

); Yosef Elboim; Yisrael Ariel
Yisrael Ariel
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel was the chief rabbi of the evacuated Israeli settlement of Yamit in the Sinai desert during the years when the Sinai was controlled by Israel. His brother, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, served as the rosh yeshiva in the yeshiva in Yamit and is currently the chief rabbi of the city of...

; She'ar Yashuv Cohen
She'ar Yashuv Cohen
Eliyahu Yosef She'ar Yashuv Cohen was the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel and the President of its rabbinical courts .- Biography :...

 (Chief Rabbi of Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

); Yuval Sherlo
Yuval Sherlo
Rabbi Yuval Sherlo is a modern orthodox rabbi and posek. He is Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva in Petah Tikva, Israel. Sherlo was one of the founders of Tzohar, an organization of modern orthodox rabbis in Israel. He is a prominent and charismatic rabbi, noted for his willingness to...

 (rosh yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva, , , is the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy . It is made up of the Hebrew words rosh — meaning head, and yeshiva — a school of religious Jewish education...

 of the hesder
Hesder
Hesder is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework...

 yeshiva of Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva
Petah Tikva known as Em HaMoshavot , is a city in the Center District of Israel, east of Tel Aviv.According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the city's population stood at 209,600. The population density is approximately...

); Meir Kahane
Meir Kahane
Martin David Kahane , also known as Meir Kahane , was an American-Israeli rabbi and ultra-nationalist writer and political figure. He was an ordained Orthodox rabbi and later served as a member of the Israeli Knesset...

. One of them, Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren
Shlomo Goren , was an Orthodox Religious Zionist rabbi in Israel who founded and served as the first head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces and subsequently as the third Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1973 to 1983.He served in the Israel Defense Forces during three wars,...

, states that it is possible that Jews are even allowed to enter the heart of the Dome of the Rock, according to Jewish Law of Conquest. These authorities demand an attitude of veneration on the part of Jews ascending the Temple Mount, ablution in a mikveh prior to the ascent, and the wearing of non-leather shoes. Some rabbinic authorities are now of the opinion that it is imperative for Jews to ascend in order to halt the ongoing process of Islamization of the Temple Mount
Islamization of the Temple Mount
The Islamization of the Temple Mount refers to the view that Muslim authorities have sought to appropriate and Islamicize the Temple Mount for exclusive Muslim use...

. Maimonides, perhaps the greatest codifier of Jewish Law, wrote in Laws of the Chosen House ch 7 Law 15 "One may bring a dead body in to the (lower sanctified areas of the) Temple Mount and there is no need to say I am ritually impure (from the dead), because the dead body itself can enter". One who is ritually impure through direct or in-direct contact of the dead cannot walk in the higher sanctified areas. For those who are visibly Jewish, they have no choice, but to follow this peripheral route as it has become unofficially part of the status quo on the Mount. Many of these recent opinions rely on archaeological evidence.

The law committee of the Masorti
Masorti
The Masorti Movement is the name given to Conservative Judaism in Israel and other countries outside Canada and U.S. Masorti means "traditional" in Hebrew...

 movement in Israel has issued two responsa
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 (a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars) on the subject, both holding that Jews may visit the permitted sections of the Temple Mount. One responsa allows such visits, another encourages them.

In Islam



In Islam, the Mount is called al-haram al-qudsī ash-sharīf, meaning the Noble Sanctuary. Muslims view the site as being one of the earliest and most noteworthy places of worship of God. For a few months in the early stages of Islam, Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 instructed his followers to face the Mount during prayer, as the Jews did. The site is also important as being the site of the "Farthest Mosque" (mentioned in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 as the location of Muhammad's miraculous Night Journey
Isra and Mi'raj
The Isra and Mi'raj , are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Islamic prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. It has been described as both a physical and spiritual journey...

), and with various Hadiths emphasizing the virtue of praying at the site.

Muslim interpretations of the Qur'an agree that the Mount is the site of a Temple built by Sulayman, considered a prophet in Islam, that was later destroyed. After the construction, Muslims believe, the temple was used for the worship of one God by many prophets of Islam, including Jesus. Other Muslim scholars have used the Torah (called Tawrat
Tawrat
Tawrat is the Arabic word for the Torah. Muslims believe it was a holy book of Islam given by Allah to Musa . The Hebrew word for their scripture, the Torah means instructions, that is why Tawrat does not refer to the entire Tanakh or Old Testament...

in Arabic) to expand on the details of the temple.

In Christianity


The Mount has significance in Christianity due to the role the Temple played in the life of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. During the Crusades, the Dome of the Rock was given to the Augustinians
Augustinians
The term Augustinians, named after Saint Augustine of Hippo , applies to two separate and unrelated types of Catholic religious orders:...

, who turned it into a church, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque became the royal palace of Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Baldwin I of Jerusalem
Baldwin I of Jerusalem, formerly Baldwin I of Edessa, born Baldwin of Boulogne , 1058? – 2 April 1118, was one of the leaders of the First Crusade, who became the first Count of Edessa and then the second ruler and first titled King of Jerusalem...

 in 1104. The Knights Templar
Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon , commonly known as the Knights Templar, the Order of the Temple or simply as Templars, were among the most famous of the Western Christian military orders...

, who believed the Dome of the Rock was the site of the Temple of Solomon, gave it the name "Templum Domini" and set up their headquarters in the Al-Aqsa Mosque adjacent to the Dome for much of the 12th century.

Though some Christians believe that the Temple will be reconstructed before, or concurrent with, the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus (also see dispensationalism
Dispensationalism
Dispensationalism is a nineteenth-century evangelical development based on a futurist biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive "dispensations" or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants.As a system,...

), the Temple Mount is largely unimportant to the beliefs and worship of most Christians. To wit, the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 recounts a story of a Samaritan woman asking Jesus about the appropriate place to worship, Jerusalem or the Samaritan holy place at Mt. Gerazim, to which Jesus replies, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."

The place is of some importance to Eastern Christians because there was a fully consecrated church on that spot during the Byzantine period. According to Eastern Church canons, once a church has been fully consecrated, it cannot ever serve as anything other than a church. Of course, this is just one example of the thousands of churches that were either destroyed, or converted to mosques, during the long decline of the Eastern Roman Empire. The most notable example is the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Recent events


March 2005: Allah inscription: The word "Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

", in approximately a foot-tall Arabic script, was found newly carved into the ancient stones, an act viewed by Jews as vandalism. The carving was attributed to a team of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

ian engineers and Palestinian laborers in charge of strengthening that section of the wall. The discovery caused outrage among Israeli archaeologists and many Jews were angered by the inscription at Judaism's holiest site.

October 2006: Synagogue proposal: Uri Ariel
Uri Ariel
Uri Yehuda Ariel is an Israeli politician who current serves as a member of the Knesset for the National Union.-Biography:Born in Afula, Ariel served in a combat unit called Palsar 7 in the Israel Defense Forces and retired as a major...

, a member of the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 from the National Union party
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

 (a right wing opposition party) ascended to the mount, and said that he is preparing a plan where a synagogue will be built on the mount. His proposed synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 would not be built instead of the mosques but in a separate area in accordance with rulings of 'prominent rabbis.' He said he believed that this will be correcting a historical injustice and that it is an opportunity for the Muslim world to prove that it is tolerant to all faiths.

October 2006: Minaret proposal: Plans are mooted to build a new minaret on the mount, the first of its kind for 600 years. King Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah II of Jordan
Abdullah II ibn al-Hussein is the reigning King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He ascended the throne on 7 February 1999 after the death of his father King Hussein. King Abdullah, whose mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, is a member of the Hashemite family...

 announced a competition to design a fifth minaret for the walls of the Temple Mount complex. He said it would "reflect the Islamic significance and sanctity of the mosque". The scheme, estimated to cost $300,000, is for a seven-sided tower — after the seven-pointed Hashemite star — and at 42 metres (137.8 ft), it would be 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) taller than the next-largest minaret. The minaret would be constructed on the eastern wall of the Temple Mount near the Golden Gate.

February 2007: Mugrabi Gate ramp reconstruction: Repairs to an earthen ramp leading to the Mugrabi Gate sparked Arab protests.

May 2007: Right-wing Jews ascend the Mount: A group of right-wing Religious Zionist rabbis entered the Temple Mount. This elicited widespread criticism from other religious Jews and from secular Israelis, accusing the rabbis of provoking the Arabs. An editorial in the newspaper Haaretz
Haaretz
Haaretz is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International Herald Tribune. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet...

accused the rabbis of 'knowingly and irresponsibly bringing a burning torch closer to the most flammable hill in the Middle East,' and noted that rabbinical consensus in both the Haredi and the Religious Zionist worlds forbids Jews from entering the Temple Mount. On May 16, Rabbi Avraham Shapiro, former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and rosh yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva
Rosh yeshiva, , , is the title given to the dean of a Talmudical academy . It is made up of the Hebrew words rosh — meaning head, and yeshiva — a school of religious Jewish education...

 of the Mercaz HaRav
Mercaz haRav
Mercaz HaRav , more properly, Mercaz HaRav Kook ), is a national-religious yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel, founded in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. It has become synonymous with his teachings....

 yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

, reiterated his opinion that it is forbidden for Jews to enter the Temple Mount. The Litvish Haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman, which is controlled by leading Litvish Haredi rabbis including Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv
Yosef Sholom Eliashiv
Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is a Haredi rabbi and posek who lives in Jerusalem, Israel.At the age of , Elyashiv is active and remains the paramount leader of both Israel and the Diaspora Lithuanian-Haredi community, and many Ashkenazi Jews regard him as the posek ha-dor, the contemporary leading...

 and Rabbi Nissim Karelitz
Nissim Karelitz
Rabbi Nissim Karelitz is the chairman of the beis din tzedek of Bnei Brak.He is one of the most highly respected Orthodox rabbis in the world and one of the most important leaders of the Lithuanian Haredi world, together with Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Halevi Wosner.His beis din ...

, accused the rabbis of transgressing a decree punishable by 'death through the hands of heaven.'

July 2007: Temple Mount cable replacement: The Waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 began digging a ditch from the northern side of the Temple Mount compound to the Dome of the Rock as a prelude to infrastructure work in the area. Although the dig was approved by the police, it generated protests from archaeologists.

October 2009: Clashes: Palestinian protesters gathered at the site after rumours that an extreme Israeli group would harm the site, which the Israeli government denied. Israeli police assembled at the Temple Mount complex to disperse Palestinian protesters who were throwing stones at them. The police used stun grenade
Stun grenade
A stun grenade, also known as a flash grenade or a flashbang, is a non-lethal weapon. The first devices like this were created in the 1960s at the order of the British Special Air Service as an incapacitant....

s on the protesters, of which 15 were later arrested, including the Palestinian President's adviser on Jerusalem affairs. 18 Palestinians and 3 police officers were injured.

July 2010: A public opinion poll in Israel showed that 50% of Israelis believe that the Temple should be rebuilt. The poll was conducted by channel 99, the government owned Knesset channel, in advance of the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av on which Jews commemorate the destruction of both the first and second Temples that both stood at this site.

July 2010: Knesset Member Danny Danon visited the Temple Mount in accordance with rabbinical views of Jewish Law on the 9th of the Hebrew Month of Av, which commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. The Knesset Member condemned the conditions imposed by Muslims upon religious Jews at the site and vowed to work to better conditions.

Panorama



See also


  • Israeli-occupied territories
    Israeli-occupied territories
    The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

  • Jerusalem in Judaism
    Jerusalem in Judaism
    Since the 10th century BCE Jerusalem has been the holiest city, focus and spiritual center of the Jewish people:*"Israel was first forged into a unified nation from Jerusalem some three thousand years ago, when King David seized the crown and united the twelve tribes from this city.....

  • Jerusalem in Christianity
    Jerusalem in Christianity
    For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

  • Jerusalem in Islam
    Jerusalem in Islam
    Jerusalem in Islam refers to the status of Jerusalem in the Muslim religious tradition. The al-Aqsa masjid in Jerusalem is built on the site of the second place of worship built by man, after the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah...

  • Excavations at the Temple Mount
    Excavations at the Temple Mount
    Several excavations at the Temple Mount have taken place. The first archaeological excavations at the site was by the British Royal Engineers in the 1870s....

  • Gates of the Temple Mount
    Gates of the Temple Mount
    The Temple Mount, located in Jerusalem, can be accessed through eleven gates, and contains a further six sealed gates.-Open gates:The following is an anti-clockwise list of gates which open onto the Temple Mount.-Gate of the Tribes:...

  • Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount
    Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount
    The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount is an apolitical group of archaeologists, intellectuals and other prominent individuals from the left and right. Its most outspoken member is the prominent archaeologist, Dr...

  • Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation
    Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation
    The Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation is an archaeological project begun in 2005 dedicated to recovering archaeological artifacts from 300 truckloads of topsoil removed from the Temple Mount by the waqf during the construction of the underground el-Marwani Mosque from 1996-1999...

  • Kaaba
    Kaaba
    The Kaaba is a cuboid-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is the most sacred site in Islam. The Qur'an states that the Kaaba was constructed by Abraham, or Ibraheem, in Arabic, and his son Ishmael, or Ismaeel, as said in Arabic, after he had settled in Arabia. The building has a mosque...

    , holiest site in Islam

External links