Biblical Archaeology Review 39:3, May/June 2013

Wooden Beams from Herod’s Temple Mount: Do They Still Exist?

By Peretz Reuven

The Romans destroyed Herod’s Jerusalem Temple in 70 C.E. Is it possible that some of the wooden beams from his Temple Mount have survived—and may be identified? I believe the answer is “yes.” Some of the beams may even be from the Temple.

Wooden beams of this quality—especially Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) and cypress (Cypressus sempervirens)—were extremely valuable and would have been used and reused, again and again.

Known to archaeologists as “secondary use,” the phenomenon of reuse is widely recognized, mostly in connection with stone building blocks but also with regard to other construction elements such as columns, capitals and bases. The same is true for wood. It was used again whenever possible.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is a prime example. It is one of the two major buildings on the Temple Mount; the other is the Dome of the Rock. Built in the late seventh century, the Dome of the Rock has survived essentially intact. This is not the case for the near-contemporaneous Al-Aqsa Mosque. It has been rebuilt several times.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.