Biblical Archaeology Review 6:4, July/August 1980

Excavations Near Temple Mount Reveal Splendors of Herodian Jerusalem

By Benjamin Mazar

Of Jerusalem’s beauty during the Herodian period, the Talmuda tells us: “Whoever has not seen Jerusalem in its splendor has never seen a lovely city.1

Lest this seem a parochial judgment, we have the confirming view of the famous Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, who referred to Jerusalem as “by far the most renowned city of the Orient, and not of Judea only.2

Josephus Flavius, the first century Jewish historian, knew and described the Jerusalem of his day in detail. The “Royal Stoa” which Herod constructed on this southern part of the Temple Mount overlooking the Temple courtyard, Josephus described as a structure “more worthy of description than any other under the sun.”3

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