New photos of pre-Islamic columns, wall on Temple Mount
Leaving the Dome, we walked South, on to Al Aqsa….Low domed roofs arched overhead, each rendered in the same limestone. Pleasing corridors stretched in longitudinal halls. Here and there, a lone woman studied her Quran. Other than that, Ibrahim and I were alone. We walked around the corner and, approaching a smaller vestibule, we confronted enormous columns. Their diameter deeper than the height of a tall man, they were disproportionate to the low roof. Each of the massive pillars were carefully supported by modern concrete abutments and steel girdles. These pillars looked much older. They didn’t belong to Al Aqsa. Nearby, Ibrahim pointed out the roof overhead. A distinct break in the brickwork was evident.
“This was the entrance to the Second Jewish Temple that was here before Al Aqsa. You can see it is absolutely distinct.” And without doubt, it was easy to see, this had been a place of worship for Jews centuries before. Perhaps we were standing at the gate. Somehow, these hardy arches, these massive pillars had escaped even the Romans’ determined destruction of the Second Temple. Before this place was made ours, it had clearly been theirs. We were on borrowed ground. Incredible at something so ancient, confronted with the profound reality preceding Islam, we fell into the shared silence of young believers.
(h/t Josh K)