newsArchaeology

Of Temple times

Unveiling Jerusalem’s priestly neighborhood from Herodian era

"History is being revived in the Jewish Quarter" as ancient homes of Temple priests reopen after a major renovation.

The Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo by Dudi Vaaknin.
The Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City. Photo by Dudi Vaaknin.

After two years of extensive development and renovations costing $5 million, Jerusalem’s ancient Herodian Quarter is reopening to the public this week.

This remarkable archaeological site in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter features an affluent residential neighborhood from the Second Temple period, spanning 2,600 square meters (about 28,000 square feet). It includes luxurious homes, exquisite mosaics, paved streets and numerous ritual baths.

The neighborhood was originally uncovered during excavations led by professor Nahman Avigad of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem following the city’s reunification in 1967. Based on the proximity to the Temple Mount and the abundance of ritual baths and stone vessels found, archaeologists believe this area housed wealthy priestly families who served at the Second Temple complex under Herodian rule.

The strict observance of purity laws characteristic of priestly homes can be inferred from the number of ritual baths discovered. The large homes—some up to 800 square meters (8,600 square feet), adorned with ornate decorations and intricate mosaics—reflect the opulence of its inhabitants.

The Herodian Quarter site was closed to visitors for the past two years to allow for major infrastructure upgrades and enhancements to the visitor experience there. Remaining home structures were meticulously reconstructed, maintaining accurate replicas, while expert artisans restored discovered mosaics.

An innovative lighting and audio system now dynamically illuminate exhibits and fills the ancient neighborhood remains with ambient sounds evoking life in this priestly enclave during Temple times.

Immersive multimedia displays vividly “bring the ancient neighborhood to life” through holograms, animations, and videos projected onto the antiquities. From the perspective of two residents, visitors can simulate walking these streets towards the Temple Mount. Suspended glass walkways provide up-close access to homes without compromising the archaeological remains.

“History is being revived in the Jewish Quarter,” proclaimed Herzel Ben Ari, CEO of the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter. “This renovated museum offers a window into Jerusalem’s majestic past during the Second Temple era. I invite all to visit and connect with the city’s magnificent heritage.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates