Ancient Buildings, fortifications in the Bible: Solomon's Temple, the walls of Jericho, the gates at Megiddo

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Facade of the Temple in Jerusalem, from a 1st century AD coin

Jerusalem Archaeology

One of the clay-covered skulls excavated at Jericho

Jericho Archaeology

An ivory plaque excavated at Megiddo

Megiddo Archaeology

Two gold covered columns stood at the entrance to the Temple of Solomon

Solomon's Temple

Detail of two court officials from a wall in the Palace of Persepolis

Ancient Palaces

Artist's sketch of a two-storey mud and brick house with rooftop working area and courtyard

Ancient Houses

Reconstruction of the crowded living conditions in an ancient city

Ancient Cities

 










 


Map of ancient Israel and the surrounding countries

Maps of ancient Israel, Judah and Samaria


 

 

 

 

 

  

 Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem
   
 According to 1 Kings 6:2-3 the First Temple, built by King Solomon, was a long-room temple with a vestibule hall and a separate room for the Holy of Holies (see plan below). There were two columns 
in the vestibule hall, and splendid furnishings and fittings. The walls were covered with wooden panels embellished with gold-leaf overlay. 
The Temple building faced east. It was oblong and consisted of three rooms of equal width: 

  • the porch or vestibule

  • the main room of religious offering, or Holy Place

  • the Holy of Holies in which the Ark rested.

A storehouse surrounded the Temple except at its front (east) side.

The First Temple had five altars: one at the entrance of the Holy of Holies, two others within the building, a large bronze one in front of the porch, and a large tiered altar in the courtyard. Within the Holy of Holies, two cherubim of olive wood stood with the Ark. This innermost sanctuary was considered the dwelling place or focus of the Divine Presence.

Floor plan of Solomon's Temple

Floor plan of Solomon's Temple (above)

Photograph of the actual site on which the Temple of Solomon is said to have stood

Photograph of the actual site on which the Temple of Solomon is said to have stood

Reconstruction of the Temple and forecourt of Solomon

Artist's reconstruction of the front facade and courtyard of Solomon's Temple

In 604BC and then again in 597BC Jerusalem was attacked and captured by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. The city was sacked, the Temple treasure was stolen, and the Temple of Solomon was totally destroyed.

For more pictures, maps, palace reconstructions and information, 
go to Bible Archaeology: Solomon's Temple


Jericho: the Walls
   
Man blowing the Shofar, photograph by Roie Galitz; this was the horn described in the story of Joshua and the fall of Jericho 'On the seventh day the people rose early at dawn, and marched around the city seven times. They shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpets, they raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat; so the people charged straight ahead into the city and captured it.' (Joshua 6)

Did the walls of Jericho come tumbling down at the sound of Joshua's horn, as the Bible describes? In Joshua 2:1 he commands his soldiers to reconnoiter the city, and after this it is destroyed. And archaeology shows that the walls did indeed come tumbling down. There is evidence of a collapsed stone and mud brick support wall. 

There is also evidence of destruction by fire. Archaeological teams have discovered a number of storage jars containing charred grain from the last Canaanite city that existed at ancient Jericho. This would indicate that the city was conquered at harvest-time and then burned. 

But it is impossible to tell whether this destruction was caused by invasion or earthquake. Possibly both occurred and both were responsible - and why not? Both were part of God's unfathomable plan for his people. 

Excavated revetment wall at ancient Jericho; notice the human figure at the bottom right of the 19th century photograph

Excavated revetment wall at ancient Jericho; Rahab the prostitute 
must have lived in one of the buildings that abutted onto this wall. 
Notice the human figure at the bottom right of this 19th century photograph

An artist's reconstruction of the fallen walls in biblical-era Jericho

An artist's reconstruction of the fallen walls in biblical-era Jericho; contrast this drawing with the photograph above. The city may already have been in a state of disrepair when Joshua captured it. 

For pictures, maps, palace reconstructions and information, 
go to Jericho Archaeology


Megiddo - the Gates  

Drawing of the gates of Megiddo as they would have been in biblical times The most vulnerable spot in a fortress/city was the gateway. So city gates became massive - formidable points of entry, daunting any enemy. 
At Megiddo (and also at Samaria and Lachish) the city gate was guarded by a double set of towers. From these the enemy could be pelted with a range of missiles - spears, arrows, 
stones, etc. This kept him from coming too close to the gate. But if he used something like a covered battering ram, he could get close to the gate and break it down.
If he got this far he would find himself channeled into a passage between the gates. This had chambers on either side that acted as firing positions for the defenders. The attacker 
found himself exposed to crossfire from two, three or four directions.
Even if the entrance was defended by a single gate tower, it was usually a very strong and deep structure with internal guard rooms and upper-floor firing apertures so as to harass the 
enemy inside the gate. The gate towers had at least a double set of gates on the outside and on the inside. 

Reconstruction of the ancient city of Megiddo, showing the city, its walls and the massive gateway

Reconstruction of the ancient city of Megiddo, showing the city, its walls and the massive gateway

The massive defensive gateway at the ancient biblical city of Megiddo

The massive defensive gateway at the ancient biblical city of Megiddo

For pictures, maps, palace reconstructions and information, 
go to Bible Archaeology: Megiddo


Bible Study Resource: Famous buildings of the Bible

 

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