Review of Gibson, Shimon., and David M. Jacobson. “The Oldest Datable Chambers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”

Gibson, Shimon., and David M. Jacobson.  “The Oldest Datable Chambers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.”  The Biblical Archaeologist 57 (September 1994):150-60. [Israel/Second Temple/Herod/Construction]

Students of the Temple and its history have long been aware of the existence of a number of subterranean features scattered over the area enclosed by the walls of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Scholars have had difficulty examining these features because the Muslims controlling the Temple Mount deny access to them.  However in the late 19th century a number of British explorers worked in Israel and some of them gained access.  One in particular, Conrad Schick was a German-born architect who measured and recorded several of the forty-five underground chambers recorded.  The papers of several of these explorers, including Schick, are in the archives of the Palestine Exploration Fund in London.

Gibson and Jacobson found that some of Shicks work has not been published.  Mining his papers they discovered detailed measurements and drawings for what the authors argue are the oldest subterranean structures on the Temple Mount.   The authors established a typology for cisterns in the Holy Land and found these two fit the pattern of Hellenistic cisterns at Maresha and Beit Givrin and date to between the third and second centuries B.C.

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